Monza, Italy: Lewis Hamilton is plotting to curb Ferrari’s outright speed advantage and extend his winning record at this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
The defending five-time champion and current series leader conceded Thursday that his Mercedes team cannot equal Ferrari’s power and straight-line pace, as proved by Charles Leclerc’s maiden triumph in Belgium.
But he has faith in his team and hopes he can "out-perform" the potential of his car to prevent Ferrari delivering their first home win at Monza since 2010.
"Some races, I've been in the past able to do more with the car than it has particularly wanted to do," he explained. "That’s what I enjoy."
Hamilton won last year’s race after Ferrari had claimed a front row lockout of the starting grid and equalled Ferrari legend Michael Schumacher's record of five Italian wins. He has also claimed six Monza poles and four in the last five years.
"I arrive at these tracks and I’ve got this experience, where we’re not the quickest, like the last race, and I was able to make a subtle difference to the race.
"I just approach it the same, trying to outdrive the car, even when there are scenarios like the last race where we weren't particularly as quick as the Ferraris, but we could outdrive a little bit and put it in close range with the car that is fastest."
He added that he was expecting a very tough and competitive contest.
"The weather’s going to be up and down, so that might make it easier or harder. I hope that we have a close race like we did in the last one - not getting close right on the last lap, but during the race.
"I hope we get to have some kind of battle, but sometimes you come into the weekend and the team predict that we're going to be ahead, and then we end up behind.
"Some weekends, we predict we’re going to be behind and we end up ahead. So I really don't quite know until I get out there and we start to see the times coming up."
Asked about his future and the possibility of a late-career switch to Ferrari, Hamilton repeated that he felt a great sense of loyalty to Mercedes, but did not absolutely rule out such a move.
"I don’t know if it's about being tempted. I think if it's about whether it’s part of the game plan.
"I was just asked the question upstairs -- how would you feel if you ended your career without being at Ferrari?
"Honestly, when you’re part of Mercedes, you’re part of a family for a lifetime, provided you stay with them obviously.
"If you look at Stirling Moss, and Fangio, whose still honoured within the family. You’re a part of their history and they look after you for the rest of your life.
"That is important to me. Loyalty is a very, very key part, but if there’s a point in my life where there’s something I want to change, then that could potentially be an option."
Sebastian Vettel meanwhile suggested he may stay with Ferrari beyond the end of his current contract next year.
"Am I going to continue? Well, why not?" he said. "For a German, it is not possible to promise something, but I am very happy here – I feel at home, it’s a family."