HAPPY AT FERRARI: Sebastian Vettel expressed his happiness with his new Ferrari and earning a third-placed podium in Australia during his debut race with the famous Italian team. Image: AP / Joshua Paul
SEPANG, Malaysia - Ferrari Formula 1 drivers have praised the improvements theirr team has made since a solid period of testing and an encouraging display in Australia.
New-to-the-team Sebastian Vettel, a four-times F1 champion, has said he is much happier with the car than he was with 2014's Red Bull.
He’s joined Kimi Raikkonen at the Italian outfit after a poor defence of his title in 2014 and looked comfortable in his new surroundings with third at the season-opener in Melbourne.
VETTEL PODIUM, KIMI STRUGGLES
Raikkonen also struggled to make an instant impact at Ferrari on his return to a team he left in 2009 but was left to rue a second botched pit-stop at Albert Park that forced his early retirement when fifth was a distinct possibility.
Ferrari, despite both its cars still looking some way off the pace set by dominant Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, has leap-frogged the floundering Red Bulls and appears more than a match for Williams in the battle for second place.
Vettel told reporters ahead of the 2015 Malaysian GP: "I think it's natural that the cars make a step forward and, to be honest, since the first day I felt quite happy. I was obviously struggling a little bit here and there in 2014's car and not entirely happy.
"In this year's car I was reasonably happy with the balance since the first day."
Raikkonen agreed with his team mate and is expecting a much brighter campaign after failing to reach the podium in 2014; fourth in Belgium his best result.
'MUCH BETTER POSITION'
Raikkonen added: "We are in a much better position than we were, even at the end of 2015, so in that way it's a nice place to be but we still have to improve quite a bit. We want to be in front but still don't have the speed, at least in qualifying, to be there.
"In the race I think we are a bit stronger compared to Mercedes but I think it will be a fun year."
Vettel was optimistic that Ferrari could carry the positive momentum from Melbourne into the Sepang race and establish itself high in the pecking order. "We'll try to confirm the results and the impression we left in Australia so will try to make sure that we establish ourselves in a similar position.
"Ideally... a little bit closer to Mercedes. Ideally... a little bit further away from Williams - but I expect it to be very, very close."
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