Thursday, 12 March 2015

Ferrari fight back starts Down Under

(© Ben Johnston 2015)

Following what can only be described as an utterly disastrous 2014 Formula One season, Scuderia Ferrari head into this weekend’s season opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne seeking redemption.

Over the winter the team did a complete clear out of their senior management team which started right at the top with the resignation of FIAT and Ferrari Chairman Luca Di Montezemelo who was replaced by Sergio Marchionne. The day after the final race of the 2014 season interim Ferrari Team Principal Marco Mattiacci was replaced by Maurizio Arrivabene.

The Maranello based outfit saw Fernando Alonso leave the team in favour of a return to McLaren while four time world champion Sebastian Vettel replaced the double world champion as Kimi Raikkonen’s team mate.

The team also saw the departure of Technical Director Pat Fry. The new Ferrari SF15-T has been designed in its entirety by former Lotus F1 Team Technical chief James Allison who returned to Maranello at the end of the 2013 Formula One season.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s opening race in Albert Park Kimi Raikkonen stated:

'It’s a new season, a new year and we start from zero. We will see how it goes. Over the winter the team has done a very good job to improve the package. The new car is better in all areas. As a team, everyone is working well together and it’s been a good winter. We feel better overall and I’m sure we are much better prepared for this year. But will we always get what we want? Only time will tell. We still have a lot of work to do to be where we really want to be, but we have to be happy with where we are after testing, compared to where we finished last year.

We must wait and see on Sunday,” he insisted. “I have no interest in starting guessing and in a couple of days we will at least get an idea where we are here. Then we can wait and see how we go in different races at different circuits.

It’s not like a normal, traditional circuit, it’s the first race of the season, so usually quite a lot happens in the race. The weather can also be a bit funny here, but hopefully everything will go smoothly for us and we can do our maximum in the race and then see where we end up. Tomorrow, we will see what the car feels like and then we can go from there. I hope we have a similar feeling here to what we had in testing and have no issues. That way we should get an okay result, but exactly where we will be is hard to say.

The Iceman concluded by wishing his former team mate Fernando Alonso well saying:

'It’s not ideal for him and you never like to see anyone get hurt and I hope he will be back soon. But that’s part of the game; you can get hurt or have problems and miss a race.

Sebastian Vettel is taking part in his opening Grand Prix weekend as a Ferrari Formula One driver and becomes the 80th to do so. Speaking ahead of his first start with the team the German started off by saying:

'The atmosphere is very positive. Obviously there’s been a lot of change over the winter, with everyone working very hard and we’ve definitely improved as a team. Now we must wait until everyone is on track, so we can see where the others are, because over the winter tests, it’s been a bit tricky to understand everything.

He went on to say:

There is a lot of history in this team and for me it’s an honour to race for Ferrari and at this stage, I’m very happy. Now, I can’t wait to get in the car and start racing with this team. But we know we have to work hard because our ambition is set very high and we want to make sure that Ferrari gets back to the top.

It depends on the form of the other teams, but we have made a step forward, although we have yet to find out how big it is. We saw last year that it’s not just Mercedes who can win races, so if you put yourself in a very strong position and now at the start of the season, we are right behind, if something happens, then you are there.

On the subject of his new team mate Kimi Raikkonen, Vettel was asked if he felt his relationship with the Finn will suffer this season to which he replied:

'I have known Kimi for a while now and we respect each other. He is very straightforward and honest. We will be trying to beat one another on the track, which is normal and if there are ever some issues we will be able to sort them out.'

The team will be hoping for a much better performance this season as they only managed to secure two podium finishes last season which came at the hands of Fernando Alonso in China and Hungary. The team have cause to be optimistic however as they finished winter testing as the third fastest team overall behind reigning world champions the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 Team and Williams Martini Racing.

© Ben Johnston 2015

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