Vettel: Ferrari must remain realistic in 2015

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Four-time F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel believes that Ferrari must remain realistic ahead of the 2015 season as the rebuilding process continues at Maranello.

Vettel confirmed in November that he would be leaving Red Bull to join Ferrari for 2015, ending a 15-year association with the drinks giant.

The German joins a very different looking team in 2015, with senior figures such as Luca di Montezemolo, Stefano Domenicali, Marco Mattiacci and Fernando Alonso all being ousted to make way for a new regime.

Today saw Ferrari launch its new car, the SF15-T, and after a disappointing season in 2014, the team is very much finding its feet again. Even with a new car design, Vettel knows that success will not come immediately upon joining the team.

“There is a lot of change going on, new people in new positions, including myself,” Vettel said. “It always takes a bit of time to settle in until you really start to make proper progress.

“I am confident we are going in the right direction but it would be wrong to immediately expect a lot. We need to remember we are coming from a 2014 season where there was one team very dominant, so it will be very difficult to arrive there from the beginning.

“For us the main target is to start to really work together, start to make progress, hopefully catch up more and more as the season progresses. You have to be realistic. There’s a lot of change that happened over the winter.”

Vettel will race alongside Kimi Raikkonen in 2015, with the two drivers being good friends and finding each other one of the few figures within F1 they can get along with.

“I don’t expect any problems,” Vettel said when asked about working with Raikkonen. “He will be a difficult teammate to beat on the track because he’s very quick and very talented, but I think off track we get on well.

“He’s always very straightforward which is something I appreciate in Kimi and doesn’t happen that often in Formula 1.”

Vettel has certainly taken a risk by moving down the grid from Red Bull to Ferrari, but he is fulfilling a prophecy that many set out for him. Just like his hero, Michael Schumacher, he is walking away from a successful team to join Ferrari and try to build a new legacy at Maranello.

Schumacher went on to win five consecutive world titles with the prancing horse, and although Vettel is racing in a very different era, he will be hoping to follow in his hero’s footsteps.

IndyCar’s ‘Phoenix’ flying into 2023 season: Romain Grosjean enjoying the pilot’s life

IndyCar Romain Grosjean pilot
Chris Owens/Penske Entertainment
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PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – The IndyCar driver known as “The Phoenix” already has taken flight before the 2023 season, and newly licensed pilot Romain Grosjean also got a head start on the opener.

Fulfilling a dream several years in the making, the Andretti Autosport plunged into aviation training over the offseason. Since beginning with online studying last August, Grosjean quickly progressed to earning his licenses for multiengine planes and instrument ratings while completing 115 hours of flight time.

He has landed twice at Albert Whitted Airport, whose primary runway also doubles as the front straightaway on the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg street course.

“Just to land on the start-finish line, that was pretty cool,” Grosjean said during IndyCar Preseason Content Days ahead of the Feb. 2-3 test at The Thermal Club. “The air traffic control guy was like, “Yeah, left on Acre Five, turn, and then back. I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s the last corner of the racetrack, I’ll take it and go back to the pit lane. He was like, ‘Oh, yeah, yeah, that’s true.’ So it was quite funny.”

Grosjean, 36, said he had wanted to become a pilot since he was 30 but was discouraged by Europe’s complicated and time-consuming licensing process (“to go to ground school twice a week, and with our life, it’s impossible”). He was inspired again last year by (now former) teammate Alexander Rossi, who flew to some 2022 races after earning his license a couple of years ago.

“I thought that was pretty cool,” said Grosjean, who had grown “bored of waiting in the airports.”

He plans to fly to nearly all the races this year (“if the weather is good enough, I’ll be flying”) and jokes about being “commercial by the end of the year, so then I can take Roger (Penske). Roger can pay me to fly him around to races if things go bad with racing.”

Grosjean’s social media has been filled with posts about his new hobby, which afforded him the opportunity recently to take his wife to Key West for lunch from their home in the Miami area.

The trip took 37 minutes there and 41 minutes on return and highlighted why Grosjean loves flying: “Freedom. Freedom to go anywhere you want, anytime you want. It’s the beauty of it. We can go to the Bahamas for a day if we want to. Anywhere. I think that’s just great to know that you can do whatever you want.”

It’s reminiscent of the cross-country trip across the Midwest in an RV that Grosjean took with his family during the summer of his 2021 rookie season.

“There’s one thing that I told my kids, and I told my friend about America, and for me, that’s the biggest difference between Europe and here, is here everything is possible,” said Grosjean (whose “Phoenix” nickname was derived from a brush with death in his final Formula One start). “If you have the wish, if you give yourself the possibility of doing it, everything is possible. It is different in Europe. Much more boundaries on the way. Much more steps that you need to do in a certain order. But if you want to be extraordinary (in the United States), if you want to do something different, you don’t need to do those steps because you can work through.

“Yeah, I like doing things, and when I do them, I like doing them well. But here I think just the opportunity of driving the RV, flying planes, for my kids to do whatever they want to do, we love that here. Yeah, it’s been the best discovery for us.”

The Swiss-born Frenchman already has flown himself to a race this year, jetting up the Florida coast for his Rolex 24 at Daytona debut last month. It was his debut as a Lamborghini factory driver, and his new deal will continue with the Twelve Hours of Sebring and possibly the Petit Le Mans while he also helps develop the automaker’s new hybrid prototype (LMDh) for next year.

Grosjean finished a disappointing 13th in the 2022 points standings with one podium for Andretti in his first full IndyCar season. The team showed improvement at Thermal, and Grosjean (who was fourth fastest on Day 1) said IndyCar will remain his priority in 2024.

But he hopes the IndyCar schedule will afford racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship endurance races and perhaps his longest plane flight yet — a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“I’ll keep my fingers crossed like that we get the weekend off from IndyCar,” said Grosjean, noting that 10 IndyCar drivers were in the Rolex 24. “I think it would make a lot of sense. I think for both series it’s amazing. If we can get Le Mans, it’s also amazing because it’s just cool.

“I remember Mario flying across the Atlantic doing Monaco and the Indy 500, and those guys, they were racing everywhere, Formula 3, Formula 2, Formula 1. They were doing the races in opening of the Formula 1 race, and I think that’s very cool for us. So yeah, looking forward to the project. There’s going to be a lot of development coming on. By the time we finish the IndyCar season, the LMDh will be here in the States, and that’s when I’m going to spend a lot of time on it.”