MONZA, Italy (AFP) - Championship leader Sebastian Vettel on Thursday (Aug 31) rejected all suggestions that he had been favoured by Ferrari's use of team orders this year.
Speaking to reporters on the eve of Ferrari's home Italian Grand Prix, he said the team had not supported him at any time ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen despite a widespread belief to the contrary.
"I am a bit surprised by the way things are put," said Vettel who leads Lewis Hamilton by seven points ahead of this weekend's race.
"I can't speak for other people, but I think Kimi and myself were racing each other the whole year. I read or heard after the Hungarian GP that he was protecting me.
"I think if you speak to him, he'll make it pretty clear. I don't think he was leaving anything behind.
"If he had an opportunity properly to pass me I think he would have tried and I think that is fair enough... I think it would have been the same the other way around."
At both the Monaco and Hungarian Grands Prix, it was reported that Vettel had benefitted from Ferrari's team strategy to favour him.
Raikkonen notably struggled to convince reporters that he was not disappointed to have been given a strategy in Monte Carlo that favoured his team-mate for victory.
"I don't know what other teams are doing, but for us I think we both go flat out and then see what happens," said Vettel.
He added that he had learned from his close-fought battle with Hamilton at last Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix where he finished second, having failed to find a way past the Mercedes man.
"I think there are some things that I learned from Spa," he said.
"I think we learned as a team, but I learned as a driver, things that maybe I would do a bit different."
And in a positive message for the tifosi, he added: "Our speed was there, in particular in the race, which weeks ago on a similar type of track, maybe wasn't the case. So that's very positive.
"Obviously, we had a smoother weekend all around, but still I think we've made improvements on all fronts.
"So I was very, very happy with the performance last week."