Sebastian Vettel says he does “not really” feel any extra pressure driving for Ferrari at their home race.
The German is 17 points behind Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, the championship leader, but is favourite to win Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
“Everyone can feel something special is going on. We have a good car but we need to make it happen,” said Vettel.
Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton arrived late because of what Mercedes said was an “unavoidable personal commitment”.
The world champion missed all his media and public commitments on a day largely set aside for such events.
Mercedes declined to elaborate further beyond saying he would be in Monza on Thursday evening and his weekend would “proceed as normal from there”.
Hamilton has a 17-point lead over Vettel with eight races of the season after the German’s win in Belgium last Sunday.
Vettel, who suffered a minor crash in the F1 Live event in Milan on Wednesday, acknowledged that Ferrari were “going in the right direction” but he emphasised that Mercedes “is still very strong”.
He added: “It is good to see we are getting stronger. In some areas, we have caught up. In others maybe we have a little bit of an edge. That is where we want to be, and maybe even beyond that.
“We want to keep that level through the year, and if there is a gap to increase it. It is going in the right way but there are a lot of things that can be improved and we need to focus on those and go step by step.
“It is a great feeling when you can fight for pole and victory. It is what you want.”