Montezemolo pleased to beat “strongest rival” Vettel

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Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo drew satisfaction from beating the team he considers their “strongest rivals” in 2013.

“We raced a good race, particularly against Red Bull and Vettel, whom I consider our strongest rival,” he told the team’s website.

“Our goal was to make it to the podium and we did that. That’s definitely a positive start to the championship and will be good for the team psychologically: for the mechanics, the technicians and the drivers.”

“It was important to start the season well as that hadn’t happened in the last two years.” It was Ferrari’s best result at Melbourne since 2007, when Kimi Raikkonen won for the team and Felipe Massa finished sixth.

The Ferrari president praised Massa, who began his season as strongly as he ended the last one: “I’m satisfied with Felipe Massa’s performance – he was very fast in qualifying and delivered a brilliant race.”

“Fernando Alonso also did very well,” he added. “He looked motivated and happy to have seen the first good responses to the tests confirmed on the track. So now, it’s feet back on the ground because there’s still a lot of work to do.”

Ferrari have taken an early lead in the constructors’ championship, which they last won in 2008. Montezemolo has dubbed the team’s 2013 car “La Speranzosa”, which means “The Hopeful One” in Italian. But he admitted other teams have quicker cars:

“We have more development to do on the single-seater. We know we don’t have the fastest car but we have a lot of irons in the fire too. And obviously, developing an intrinsically good car is a much easier thing to do.”

Daniel Ricciardo would relish being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo says he would relish the challenge of having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate if he joins Mercedes next year.

Ricciardo is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the season and expressed interest in joining teams like Mercedes or Ferrari to help him challenge for the championship.

The Australian says he would “love to obviously be challenged against the best and Lewis is obviously up there.”

He adds: “I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge.”

Ricciardo says he won’t accept a faster car if it means playing second fiddle to an established star.

He says “there’s always been really good clarity and fairness (at Red Bull) … and I would expect that environment everywhere.”