“Ciao raggazi, Forza Ferrari.” (Hello boys, come on Ferrari)
These were Sebastian Vettel’s words over team radio in response to Mauricio Arrivabene’s congratulations on a third place finish on his Ferrari debut in the season opener in Melbourne, Australia. With a healthy dose of Italian, it would appear that the 4-time World Champion has settled in very quickly at the team, considering it was his first day there just 110 days ago at their Fiorano test track back in November.
Ferrari have been making strides forward since last season – Changes in personnel at the top and a tough winless season seem to have been forgotten quickly. Fresh additions in new team principal Mauricio Arrivabene and the arrival of Vettel from Red bull are just some of the pieces in Ferrari’s giant puzzle.
During Pre-season Testing it was evident that Ferrari had made a step forward with their power unit; consistent running and reliability put them top of the time sheets in Jerez. Of course back then it was difficult to gauge where all the teams were because of varying fuel loads and car setups. It would appear that Ferrari have leap-frogged Renault and perhaps the customers Mercedes-powered cars such as, Williams in power unit performance.
The first qualifying session was the real indication to see where all the teams are – Mercedes are obviously still quite a way out in front, but behind them is where it gets really exciting – the battle for best of the rest with Williams and Ferrari.
It was a pretty good weekend all around for Ferrari, thanks mainly due to the effort that they put in over the winter. An area for improvement in the next race is pit stops. Kimi Raikkonen may have finished 5th or even challenged Felipe Massa for 4th place had it not been for an incorrectly-fitted tyre at his second pit stop. Unfortunately Kimi had to retire on lap 42 with a loose wheel.
Kimi definitely seems much happier in this year’s car in comparison to last season and having a teammate with whom he is close friends is certainly a great help. He can also be glad that he will not pick up a 10-place grid penalty in Malaysia despite an unsafe release of the car from the pits, because the wheel retention system worked.
Last season saw Fernando Alonso take just two podiums for the team. This year, after the first race, Sebastian Vettel has already equalled last season’s best qualifying position as well as taking to the podium. It is certainly good to see Ferrari finding their form again – they’ll be hoping that they can maintain this and be best of the rest behind Mercedes who are the reigning champions and current benchmark.
Ferrari also supply engines to Sauber, whose double-points finish in the season-opener already beats their tally of zero points for the whole of 2014. The Swiss team had a controversial weekend involving court cases regarding their ex-driver, Giedo van der Garde. However, scoring an excellent 5th place with Felipe Nasr was a great way to put the shenanigans behind them.
The next race will be in Malaysia, on Sunday 29 March, 2015.