Sebastian Vettel is expecting a very different reception at his first Italian Grand Prix as a Ferrari driver.
On the podium in 2013, when he wore Red Bull colours as F1’s dominant and reigning world champion, the German was booed with a ferocity rarely seen in the sport.
It was a far cry from 2008, when the fresh-eyed rookie won against the odds at the wheel of a Toro Rosso with Ferrari power.
And now in 2015, the now 28-year-old is Ferrari’s new lead driver, with a faint chance at the world championship and gunning to wear red on the podium in front of swarms of adoring Tifosi.
“In 2008 for my first win, the fans were going crazy,” Vettel recalls, according to the Kolner Express newspaper. “I think they appreciated what I had done, particularly as an Italian team with the Ferrari engine.”
After that, however, the appreciation of the Tifosi waned dramatically, Vettel admitted to Turun Sanomat newspaper, “I was never very popular at Monza. Hopefully this weekend I will resolve those issues. When I won again with Red Bull I was just as happy but then I was booed.”
“It was then I realised what a big difference this track is when it comes to what car you take to victory at Monza. So I am happy now that the Tifosi are supporting me,” mused the four times world champion.
Apart from his maiden win at the venue in 2008, Vettel also won at Monza in 2011 and 2013 as a Red Bull driver.
This year the German has been on the podium seven times and lies second in the world championship standings, with Ferrari second in the constructors’ championship standings.