M ichael Schumacher's first Ferrari race was in Melbourne in 1996 finished before the checkered flag. The record world champion retired with a brake defect. 19 years later, Sebastian Vettel did what Schumacher did at his Ferrari premiere only at the second attempt. He drove the red car onto the podium.
The gap to the victorious Mercedes was 34.523 seconds. If you subtract the three laps behind the SafetyCar, the Ferrari was on average 0.627 seconds slower per lap than the Silver Arrows. So just half as much as in the qualification. Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen agreed: 'In the race we are closer to Mercedes than in practice.'
Ferrari made up ground
That was because of the fuel economy. The Mercedes could not drive their pace on the route with the highest fuel consumption. The downforce gained has its price. Fuel consumption has increased. 'We had to save more than last year,' said Nico Rosberg. And that's exactly where you can see where Ferrari has made up ground. The fuel consumption was one of the sore points of the previous year's engine. You are already driving at eye level with Mercedes. This is also underlined by the comparison between Vettel and Felipe Massa in the Williams.
But it should not be forgotten that Fernando Alonso started the season a year ago with a similar deficit to the winner. Alonso in fourth place was 35.284 seconds short of Nico Rosberg. However, due to the lack of competition, Rosberg was not challenged a year ago. This time the Mercedes drivers fought a duel on the bend and break. 'We didn't give anything away or withhold anything. Our only brake was the fuel consumption,' admitted team boss Toto Wolff.
During the 2014 season, Ferrari fell further and further behind the Silver Arrows. That shouldn't happen this year. 'Third place is enough for today,' beamed Vettel, but also recalled the order for the future: 'Mercedes drives in a world of its own. We still have a lot to do. But everyone in the team knows where we want to go. 'Team boss Maurizio Arrivabene does not want to be satisfied with being crowned either:' We have to stop congratulating ourselves on being second. The first goal of catching up with Williams and Red Bull has been achieved. Now there is an even higher goal. '
Bad start goes on Vettel's cap
Vettel fully tasted the first podium in red. It was as if he were counting each Ferrari flag individually.' I used to be the flags didn't attract much attention. 'The German scored more points with his enthusiasm at the Tifosi. It was an honor to drive for the most famous racing team in the world, he said.' I used to be a secret Ferrari fan. Today I can be official. '
It was an almost perfect afternoon for the former Red Bull driver.' Only the start didn't go that well. It's on my head. I should have been more awake. The rear wheels spun too much. Fortunately, I was able to make up some ground on the brakes. ”The rest of the race was a duel with Felipe Massa. The later pit stop brought Vettel past the Williams.
When everyone expected the Ferrari either to break in the tires or to run out of fuel, Vettel stepped up and kept Massa at a distance. His conclusion: 'We have a very good basis with our car. No one has improved as much over the winter as we have. I've always dreamed of Ferrari. The dream came true at the right time.'