MELBOURNE: Sebastian Vettel could hardly hide his delight after completing his first practice session for his new team Ferrari on Friday.
As expected, the German was slower than the two Mercedes’ of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg but he was still quicker than everyone else, setting the third fastest time ahead of Sunday’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Vettel was careful not to read too much into his team’s strong performance but his body language told a different story as he climbed out of the cockpit and flashed a big cheesy grin.
“We didn’t have any issues with the car, there were no problems with reliability, it seems that the hard work we did over testing was positive,” he told reporters outside the team’s garage.
“We had a smooth day, which is the most important thing.
“In terms of performance, the higher up you are the better it is but it’s Friday. I’ve been in Formula One for quite a while now and Friday’s not that important.”
Vettel’s upbeat mood could not have been any different than last year, when he was struggling in his final season with Red Bull.
He’d won four consecutive championships with the team between 2010-13 but didn’t win a single race last year and found it hard to keep up his sprits.
Ferrari didn’t win a race either last year but the early signs are encouraging, even though Vettel conceded the Italian manufacturers were not ready to challenge Mercedes just yet.
“It would be nice to stay in front of as many people as we can,” he said.
“I’m sure Mercedes is out of reach, you have to be realistic also, but the most important thing today is that we didn’t have any problems, it was very, very smooth.
“I don’t remember the last smooth Friday I had like this, so from that point of view, it was very good.”
Vettel’s disposition was helped by the strong performance of his team mate Kimi Raikkonen, who was fourth fastest overall, but the German still wasn’t ready to get too carried away.
“It depends on how much fuel other people were running and what they were doing but for what we did we can be happy,” Vettel said.
“The most important thing was that we didn’t have any problems so that’s very positive.
“A lot of work has gone into this car, not just from the people here but also from Maranello so it seems we are on a good track.” (Reuters)