Vettel, Raikkonen delight at Ferrari progress

Thu Mar 26, 2015 10:13am EDT
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By John O'Brien

SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - Ferrari's drivers have praised the improvements the team have made after a solid winter of testing and encouraging display in Australia with new recruit Sebastian Vettel claiming he is much happier with the car than he was with last year's Red Bull.

The four-times Formula One champion joined Finn Kimi Raikkonen at the Italian outfit after a poor defense of his title last season and looked comfortable in his new surroundings with third place at the season-opener in Melbourne.

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 an early retirement when fifth place was a distinct possibility.

Despite both cars still looking someway off the pace set by dominant Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, Ferrari have leapfrogged the floundering Red Bulls and appear more than a match for Williams in the battle for second place.

"I think it's natural that the cars make a step forward, and to be honest since the first day I felt quite happy," Vettel told reporters on Thursday ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix.

"I was obviously struggling a little bit here and there in last year's car and not entirely happy.

"Whereas with this year's car, and the Ferrari of this year, since the first day I was reasonably happy with the balance we have."

Raikkonen agreed with his team mate and is expecting a much brighter campaign after failing to secure a podium last season with fourth place in Belgium the Finn's best result.   Continued...

Formula One - F1 - Malaysian Grand Prix 2015 - Sepang International Circuit, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - 26/3/15. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen (C) walking in the paddock
Reuters / Olivia Harris