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.