Lewis Hamilton is anticipating a battle royal tomorrow in a bid to further underline how the tide has turned on his season.
After clinching the 15th pole of his career for the Italian Grand Prix, Hamilton naturally starts favourite, and it is his race to lose.
But Hamilton is on a two-stop strategy, whilst those behind in Brawn duo Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, Renault’s Fernando Alonso and the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will only be making one trip to the pits.
Hamilton will also have to fight off his close friend in Force India’s Adrian Sutil who is alongside him on the front row for the first time since they were team-mates at the ASM marque in Formula Three in 2005.
The reigning world champion will need to put his foot down at the start and open up a significant advantage by the time of his first stop if he is to go on to chalk up his 11th win in Formula One.
“I’m as confident as you can be,” said Hamilton.
“We’re on pole position, we feel comfortable with the performance of the car, but I don’t really know what to expect tomorrow.
“All I can hope for is a good, clean start because we’re in a very strong position, and that we make sure we’re on top of our game.
“From my side I’ve got KERS which should help, and I just have to optimise my strategy and hopefully hold off those behind.
“But it’s going to be a close race. It should probably be one of the most exciting races we’ve had for some time.”
This latest performance, though, was further evidence Hamilton and McLaren are enjoying a renaissance to their season.
After his victory in Hungary and second place in Valencia where he started on pole, the building blocks are in place to ensure he is a title contender again next year, not just an interested spectator.
“It has been tough for us, especially after two very competitive seasons where we were competing for both world championships,” added Hamilton.
“Knowing we had given it our all, to then arrive in Melbourne and not be competitive, that was tough.
“We thought we’d catch up a lot earlier, maybe in Barcelona, but it didn’t happen until the Nurburgring (German Grand Prix).
“It was definitely very hard for the team, our sponsors, myself and my family.
“It was tough because we love winning, that’s what we go out there to do, it’s what we wake up for, to make sure we are competing for world championships.
“We can’t necessarily say it was a mistake, it’s just one of those years.
“But we learn from it, and we’re pushing to make sure we can compete for further world championships in the future.”
Hamilton at least had a kind word for Sutil who has had to wait until his 48th grand prix for his moment in the sun.
The German’s qualifying performance was undisputably the best of his career, to which Hamilton remarked: “I’m very happy to see Adrian here.
“It’s been a very long time since we’ve been in a press conference together, and up there qualifying together.
“He has done a great job. He deserves to be up there with us, and finally he has been able to show what he is capable of.”