STUTTGART, Germany - Sebastian Vettel doesn't expect an instant return to success at Ferrari as 2014 champion team Mercedes will likely continue to dominate Formula 1 in 2015.
LONG ROAD AHEAD: Sebastian Vettel has no illusions about his chances of instant success from his first races with Ferrari in 2015. Image: AP / Luca Bruno
The four-times F1 champion told German-language newspaper Die Welt that he would be patient as he moves to Ferrari from Red Bull in 2015.
Vettel said: "We don't have to pretend that we can match Mercedes in 2015. I am aware that we face a big task at Ferrari which requires some time, especially while Mercedes has a huge competitive edge.
HARD WORK AHEAD
"First, I want to prove that it was the right step - for Ferrari and for me. That will take a while. I don't expect the people to be fired-up from the outset. You have to work for it."
Vettel earned four F1 titles from 2010 to 2013 but won no races in 2014. Mercedes dominated 2014, claiming the Constructors' title and Drivers' title with Lewis Hamilton with team mate Nico Rosbergsecond overall.
Ferrari has not won a race since the 2013 Spanish GP and its last F1 champion was Kimi Raikkonen in 2007. The team was fourth in the 2014 Constructors' championship, with departing Fernando Alonso sixth and Raikkonen 12th overall.
Alonso failed to win the title during five seasons with Ferrari but even Michael Schumacher did not win his first of five Drivers' titles at Ferrari until his fifth season with the team.
Vettel reiterated that he had fulfilled a childhood dream by joining Ferrari, speaking of "a car that lives, has a soul".
"Michael Schumacher was my idol in his red car when I was a little boy... Ferrari is a legend, the temptation is huge to help Ferrari in a transitional period to drive for the top again - soon, I hope. I will give it all I have.
"Ferrari is just something special. The myth, the history, Enzo Ferrari, the whole path of the Ferrari Scuderia in F1 creates a special feeling in me."