MELBOURNE – Sebastian Vettel, flushed by a podium finish on his debut for Ferrari behind the tearaway Mercedes in Australia, says the job is now to ensure it was not a one-off.
The four-time world champion was excited to get into the top three in his first drive for Ferrari since his switch from Red Bull.
Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg swept to another Mercedes one-two finish in Sundayâ€™s season-opener to continue their teamâ€™s dominance of Formula One after sweeping aside all their rivals last season.
Reigning world champion Hamilton led from the start to the chequered flag, beating last yearâ€™s winner Rosberg by 1.3 seconds, with Vettel some 33 seconds away third.
It was a huge lift for Ferrari, who struggled into fourth in the 2014 constructorsâ€™ championship behind Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams, but Vettel cautioned Ferrariâ€™s legion of fans not to get carried away.
â€œIf you look at the gap, itâ€™s not going to be easy,â€ Vettel said.
â€œI think we have to focus on ourselves, make sure what we learned from this weekend weâ€™re able to take into the next races.
â€œWe need to confirm that in the next race in Malaysia, thatâ€™s priority number one, so we need to make sure that it was not just a one-off.
â€œWe need to improve reliability. Itâ€™s a shame Kimi (Raikkonen) didnâ€™t finish, we could have scored a lot more points in the race.â€
Raikkonen retired on lap 42 moments after his second pit stop, when he drove off with his left rear wheel not properly attached.
Hamilton, who won in Melbourne for the first time since 2008, was keeping a lid on team expectations just one race into the new season.
â€œWeâ€™ve learned a lot this weekend and there will be a lot of analysis to do before the next race in Malaysia,â€ Hamilton said.
â€œHopefully weâ€™ll keep finding ways to improve. Just because we had that gap it doesnâ€™t mean weâ€™ll be cruising. Thereâ€™s still a long way to go.â€
Rosberg, who won last yearâ€™s Australian GP, said it had been difficult to repeat the performance with Hamilton putting in a mistake-free drive.
â€œItâ€™s still a long season with lots of races to go. I want to strike back in Malaysia, so thatâ€™s the focus,â€ he said.
Williams driver Felipe Massa, who had a battle with Vettel for the podium, said his team head to Malaysia in good spirits.
â€œThe aim of today was start the season with a solid points haul and demonstrate that we have a competitive car,â€ the Brazilian said.
â€œWe have managed to achieve much of what we wanted so this has been a positive start.
â€œThe only disappointing part of the race was that I was jumped at the first pit stop by Vettel after losing a second and a half behind Daniel Ricciardo on my out-lap which was enough to lose the position.
â€œI have faith in the team and the car and we head to Malaysia knowing we are very much in the fight.â€ -AFP