Italian Grand Prix: Lewis Hamilton hoping for overnight progress at Monza
The 28-year-old Briton conceded that Vettel had outpaced him on a hot afternoon at the Autodromo Nazionale, but stressed that he can bounce back for a fifth consecutive pole in Formula One this season.
Lewis Hamilton called for his Mercedes team to react, again, with an overnight re-think after Sebastian Vettel led a Red Bull domination of Friday's opening practice for this weekend's Italian Grand Prix. (Racecentre)
The 28-year-old Briton conceded that Vettel had outpaced him on a hot afternoon at the Autodromo Nazionale, but stressed that he can bounce back for a fifth consecutive pole on Saturday.
"It has been quite a smooth day - ok, we're not as fast as the Red Bulls, but we are still confident," he said. "The Red Bull is very quick, but generally my car feels good so I have to sit down tonight and try and understand things.
"I feel like I am on the limit everywhere and the car feels reasonably balanced. Maybe we are running too much wing? We'll have to see...
"Right now, it doesn't look massively strong for me for tomorrow, but hopefully we can improve the pace. You don't know what fuel loads people are on -- so we will wait and see."
Hamilton, like Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, has made clear that he has to cut into Vettel's massive lead in the drivers' championship at the next two races if he is to stay in the hunt.
He may draw some comfort from the knowledge that though Vettel has won twice at Monza, compared to his sole win, Red Bull has registered only one Italian victory from 16 starts since 2005 -- and regards the Autodromo Nazionale as a bogey circuit.
The winner at Monza, however, has started from pole 10 times in the last 13 years - a statistic that makes it clear that Vettel's rivals need to overhaul the Red Bull duo to boost their title challenges.
Both Webber and Vettel were reluctant to crow, however. "The car is certainly not in bad shape," said Webber. "We just want to get a better package out of what we have got.
"We need to work harder on short and long runs. Seb had one lap there that was well clear of everybody -- which you can do sometimes."
Vettel said: "It was a good day, but it is still only a Friday. It looks tight. If you look at it too much it can be a distraction, but I think it will be a close qualifying with many cars up there.
"Tomorrow, I expect it to be close. It is a short lap and there are not too many corners -- so not that much you can do right, and not much you can do wrong."
On Friday, Vettel topped the times ahead of Mark Webber with some ease, the defending triple world champion going fastest throughout before clocking one minute and 24.453 seconds leaving the German six-tenths of a second clear.
Australian Webber was second ahead of Kimi Raikkonen and his Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean, with Fernando Alonso fifth for Ferrari and Hamilton sixth for Mercedes.
Alonso said he was not too disappointed at seeing Red Bull dominate Friday practice, but wanted Ferrari to analyse and improve.
"For me, the feeling is the same as any Friday, which means we're neither very happy nor very disappointed with our performance level," he said.
"We will have to wait and see how qualifying goes before getting a true picture.
"Red Bull seems very strong again here and we will have to do a lot of work to be as well prepared as possible for qualifying, in order to find those missing tenths.
Hamilton had been fastest in the morning's opening session ahead of Alonso, but the pair were unable to mount a serious threat in the afternoon heat as the Red Bull duo delivered a stunning demonstration of consistent speed at the Autodromo Nazionale.