Ferrari should now target Mercedes , says Maurizio Arrivabene
Scuderia boss thinks they have measure of Williams and Red Bull
By Mike Wise and James Galloway in Melbourne
Last Updated: 26/03/15 9:19am
After Ferrari suggested in Australia that they’re now ‘best of the rest’ behind Mercedes, Maurizio Arrivabene said they should take their eyes off the likes of Williams and Red Bull and concentrate instead on the defending champions.
Appearing to make good progress during the winter, the Scuderia confirmed as much in Sunday’s season-opener with Sebastian Vettel finishing third on his debut behind Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen retired after a more problematic race but still showed strong pace, indicating that Ferrari have the measure of closest rivals Williams.
The latter’s technical director, Pat Symonds, thought as much afterwards and Arrivabene thinks so too: Vettel passed Felipe Massa in the race, although the absence of Williams team-mate Valtteri Bottas meant the picture was not entirely clear.
Speaking after the race, Ferrari’s new team boss said they had suspected the SF15-T's capabilities during the final pre-season test in Barcelona.
"Our goal, we were looking forward to Williams, to Red Bull, at the beginning. Now, we need to start to be a bit more convinced about ourselves and to reduce the gap with the Mercedes guys," Arrivabene said.
"We were, since Barcelona Friday and also Saturday, quite convinced by what we've got in the pocket. So we were not really concerned.
"It's a pity that Bottas was not there because then it was giving us a kind of clear benchmark. But I think that we need to stop thinking about second.
"We need to start to think and looking forward for the first."
Raikkonen’s problems started when he and Vettel touched at the first corner. Losing a couple of positions, he then dropped to the back of the field after a damaged wheel slowed his first stop.
The Finn charged back through the field and also seemed capable of getting past Massa as well until the same problem occurred in his second stop. He pulled out of the race soon after.
Arrivabene was seen talking to Ferrari’s mechanics in the pitlane, but insisted it was to calm things down: "I simply said 'Calm down, be focused, don't worry'. Things like this happen.
"Seb, of course, was happy because his dream comes true – to get a podium with Ferrari is something really special for a Formula 1 driver.
"Concerning Kimi, I was going straight away to talk with him. What you need to do with a driver, you need to understand and you need to keep him up, otherwise if you're going to celebrate with one and ignore the other it doesn't work.
He added: "The two guys are working very well together and my job is to keep the right balance and to make Kimi confident."