On just his second appearance as a Scuderia Ferrari driver, Sebastian Vettel was victorious as he took the spoils in the Malaysian Grand Prix, beating both Mercedes drivers in the process, while team-mate Kimi Raikkonen recovered from an early puncture to finish fourth.
Vettel was naturally delighted to take his fortieth career victory on Sunday, and admitted winning for Ferrari had ticked off one of his childhood dreams. He revealed he has been accepted and welcomed within the Ferrari family, and hopes this is the first of many wins for the driver/team combination.
“Today is such a special day for me,” insisted Vettel. “I don’t really know what to say, I am speechless. It’s not only one childhood dream that becomes true, it seems to be many dreams together.
“It was amazing to look down from the podium and see the mechanics, the engineers, the whole team and listen to the German and Italian anthems. The atmosphere in the team has always been great, but it’s just getting better and better.
“For today, the important thing is for all of us to enjoy this moment together and celebrate. Since I joined Ferrari I felt incredibly welcome and together we have worked to improve things.”
Despite his victory, Vettel knows Mercedes are still the team to beat in 2015, with the German determined to see Ferrari being right behind them. He believes there is more to come from Ferrari, citing that the potential of the team is huge.
“The potential, as I always said, is huge, it’s good to see what a step forward we did over the winter,” said Vettel. “There were a lot of changes in the background, which never make things easy, but everyone saw the positives of that.
“It just doesn’t compare to last year, when the car was also good but I couldn’t get on top of it. With Ferrari I had a good feeling right from the start. This is a special day, it has been a while since both I and team won for the last time.
“I’d like to be in the same position at every race, but we must be realistic, Mercedes were a bit struggling today but they have a great package and our target is to make the gap smaller at every Grand Prix and make sure that we are the team right behind them”.
Raikkonen reflected on what might have been in Malaysia, with the Finn having been quick all weekend only to be caught out by the weather in qualifying, and then suffering an early puncture after a clash with the Sauber of Felipe Nasr in the race that put him out of position at the back of the field.
“We had a pretty poor weekend in terms of things going wrong,” said Raikkonen.
“I had a good speed but in qualify it didn’t go well and then today, after a poor start where I had too much wheelspin right off the line, I found myself fighting with all the other drivers and I had a puncture on the rear left tyre while battling Nasr at the last corner, which means I had to go one full lap before coming back to pits with no tyre.
“At that point my floor had got a little bit damaged, I had to do a full lap with no tyre and then, even if the safety car helped us, I had to start from way back behind.”
Despite his early issues, the Finn was able to climb back up the order, and finished fourth, proving the speed of the Ferrari on the day. He was happy to see Vettel break the Mercedes stranglehold with his first victory for the team, but admitted both drivers knew they had a good car in 2015 after pre-season testing.
“We did our best and the forth position was the maximum we could achieve,” added Raikkonen. “The win of Sebastian is a very good thing for him and for the whole team, knowing how difficult the last year has been; it’s a very good job what the team has done.
“We knew from winter testing that we have a good car, so it did not come as a total surprise, and probably the track with these high temperatures suited us. I don’t know how it will be in other circuits, but the car has been strong so far, not yet as we want but we have a good package, and we are getting stronger”.