Sebastian Vettel is keeping his feet on the ground about prospects for the rest of the season despite the huge boost that his Malaysian GP victory gave Ferrari.
Everyone is eager to see if the Italian team will have the speed with which to challenge Mercedes at other circuits.
“I think we are realistic about where we are and what we want to achieve,” he said in China today. “I think the targets haven’t changed. Obviously it was a great victory we had in Malaysia and great for us as a team, and especially for myself a very emotional day – my first win with Ferrari. And then coming back to the factory and to see all the people there was quite special. There are a lot of people working there, so you can imagine, and of course they were very, very happy.
“The team hasn’t won for quite a while, so I think they enjoyed the fact that they had something to celebrate, there are a couple of rituals involved and it was nice for them to get that feeling again, but as I said, for the next races nothing has changed: we want to confirm that we have a strong package, we have a strong car and we want to make sure that we stay ahead of the people we stayed of in the last couple of races, but knowing that obviously Mercedes is in a very, very strong position.”
Asked if the Malaysian pace was “for real” he said: “I think it was for real two weeks ago. I don’t think Mercedes backed off, and everyone else. It was obviously nice for us to see that we were so competitive but I think there were also a couple of circumstances coming together but most important we managed to capitalise and get a very good result and win the race.
“But for here and for the next races, I think in general [at] the start of the season, things can be up and down. We want to make sure that there is quite a lot of up, not so many downs but it’s normal that some races you are more competitive than others, so I think, as I said, that we managed to do a very good job in Malaysia but for here and for the next races we have to be realistic about what we want to achieve.”
Vettel made some interesting observations about the celebrations in Maranello.
“I was there anyway to do some work. It was planned [for me] to come on the Wednesday to be in the simulator. but obviously it was also quite nice to receive a bit of a welcome after the win. All the factory got together for a quick lunch which was quite nice, to have all the people in one room – it was a big room – all together and able to celebrate a little bit.
“Also I learned that when you win with Ferrari, they put a Ferrari flag right at the entry gates. Obviously the last couple of years… it has been a long time since there has been a flag. I think some ten years ago there were a lot of flags, especially at the end of the season, so this flag will stay for the rest of the year. We will of course try to maybe put another one sometime soon, but it’s tough right now.”