Sebastian Vettel has wasted no time in kicking off his Ferrari career in earnest.
The German expressed disappointment last week when Red Bull prevented him from driving the Italian team’s 2014 car in the post-race Abu Dhabi test.
But on Saturday, at Ferrari’s private Fiorano test circuit adjacent to the Maranello factory, Vettel made his test debut in a two-year-old Ferrari F2012.
He was wearing a special white helmet bearing the words ‘My first day at Ferrari’ in Italian.
“A test like that gives you nothing,” Mercedes’ team chairman Niki Lauda told Bild newspaper. “It’s just for show.”
Indeed, conditions were not ideal as light rain was falling, but Vettel will in the next days meet with his new engineers and bosses and try Ferrari’s state-of-the-art driver simulator for the first time.
And unlike last week, when Dr Helmut Marko said Vettel’s appearance in the Ferrari pits was technically a breach of contract, the Red Bull official said the early test in the V8-powered F2012 was “completely legitimate”.
“I would have done the same too,” Marko told Sport Bild. “He starts as soon as possible to work with the Ferrari engineers and familiarise himself with the procedures.”
Italy’s Autosprint said Vettel also began working with his new race engineer Riccardo Adami, who has switched from Toro Rosso where he worked with the 27-year-old driver in 2008.
“I’m really optimistic,” Piero Ferrari, the son of Enzo, said, “and hope we can give Sebastian a competitive car.
“If he does not win, it will be about our equipment, not about him.”
New world champion Lewis Hamilton, however, does not sound overly worried Vettel in a red car will be a major competitor at least initially in 2015.
“Ferrari as a team is going through a difficult time with a lot of ups and downs,” the Briton is quoted by Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
“All the people coming and going destabilises a team,” added Hamilton. “Thank god we (Mercedes) are a very stable team.”
Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport reports that Ross Brawn will not be returning to Ferrari, after president Sergio Marchionne declined to accept the condition that the Briton be installed as the clear team boss.
© RIF | GMM