Sebastian Vettel joins Ferrari for 2015 season, partnering Kimi Raikkonen

Leave a comment

ABU DHABI – Just minutes after it was announced that Fernando Alonso would be leaving Ferrari at the end of the 2014 Formula 1 season, four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel has been confirmed as his replacement at Maranello, joining on a three-year deal.

Vettel announced back in October that he would be leaving Red Bull at the end of the season after six seasons together in Formula 1 and 15 years in partnership with the brand.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner suggested at the time that Vettel was bound for Ferrari, and the team has today confirmed that he will be joining for the 2015 season.

“The next stage of my Formula 1 career will be spent with Scuderia Ferrari and for me that means the dream of a lifetime has come true, said Vettel. “When I was a kid, Michael Schumacher in the red car was my greatest idol and now it’s an incredible honour to finally get the chance to drive a Ferrari.

“I already got a small taste of what the Ferrari spirit means, when I took my first win at Monza in 2008, with an engine from the Prancing Horse built in Maranello. The Scuderia has a great tradition in this sport and I am extremely motivated to help the team get back to the top. I will put my heart and soul into making it happen.”

Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci was delighted to welcome Vettel to the team, where he will partner Kimi Raikkonen for the 2015 season.

“Scuderia Ferrari has decided to put its faith in the youngest multiple champion in the history of Formula 1,” Mattiacci said. “In Formula 1 terms, Sebastian Vettel is a unique combination of youthfulness and experience and he brings with him that sense of team spirit which will prove invaluable when, together with Kimi, they tackle the challenges awaiting us, as we aim to be front runners again as soon as possible.

“With Sebastian, we all share a thirst for victory as well as enthusiasm, a strong work ethic and tenacity; key elements for all the Scuderia members to write together a new winning chapter in the history of Ferrari.”

As Vettel mentioned, he is following in the footsteps of Michael Schumacher, who left Benetton at the end of 1995 for Ferrari after winning two titles with the Italian team. Although he did not win another championship until 2000, it proved to be the right decision as he then went on to win five straight drivers’ titles with the team in one of the most dominant eras that sport has seen.

Vettel has a chance to prove any critics that he can succeed away from the Red Bull family, and he will be hoping to get back in the running for the drivers’ championship in 2015 after a tame defence this year.

For Ferrari, the arrival of Vettel is a statement of intent for the future. Although it has struggled since its last drivers’ championship win in 2007, the mystique surrounding the team remains, and the plan is certainly for the long-term with Vettel at the heart of the team.

Red Bull confirmed back in October that Vettel will be replaced by Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat for the 2015 season.

March 28 in Motorsports History: Adrian Fernandez wins Motegi’s first race

Leave a comment

While auto racing is an international sport, oval racing remains uniquely American. 

That almost always has remained the case since the inception of the sport, but in 1998, the citizens of Japan got their first taste of American oval racing.

Having opened the previous year, Twin Ring Motegi was built by Honda in an effort to bring Indy-style racing to the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Adrian Fernandez was the first driver to win at the facility, taking the checkered flag in CART’s inaugural race after shaking off flu earlier that day.

Fernandez held off a hard-charging Al Unser Jr to win by 1.086 seconds. The victory was the second of his career and his first since Toronto in 1996.

Adrian Fernandez celebrates with Al Unser Jr and Gil de Ferran after winning the inaugural race at Motegi. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The race was also memorable for a violent crash involving Bobby Rahal.

Running third with 15 laps remaining, Rahal’s right front suspension broke in Turn 2, causing his car to hit the outside wall and flip down the backstretch.

Luckily, Rahal walked away from the accident without a scratch.

“The car was on rails through (turns) 1 and 2, and all of a sudden it just got up into the marbles, and it was gone,” Rahal said. “Thank God we’ve got such safe cars.”

The following season, Fernadez went back-to-back and won again at Motegi. The track remained on the CART schedule until 2002.

In 2003, Honda switched their alliance to the Indy Racing Leauge, and Motegi followed suit.

The track continued to host IndyCar racing until 2011 with the final race being held on the facility’s 2.98-mile road course, as the oval sustained damage in the Tōhoku earthquake earlier that year.

Also on this date:

1976: Clay Regazzoni won the United States Grand Prix – West, Formula One’s first race on the Long Beach street circuit. The Grand Prix would become an IndyCar event following the 1983 edition of the race.

1993: Ayrton Senna won his home race, the Grand Prix of Brazil, for the second and final time of his career. The victory was also the 100th in F1 for McLaren.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter