The Ferrari Formula One team head into the season finale Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Bay circuit this weekend hoping to end the year on a high note following and extremely successful season for the Prancing Horse.
Sebastian Vettel goes into the final race of the season having secured third place in the championship in his first season with the Maranello based outfit after claiming 13 podium finishes and three victories in Malaysia, Hungary and Singapore and will be looking to build on his performance this weekend to end the season in a strong position and a good platform for 2016.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s race, the four time world champion who last weekend won the Race Of Champions in London commented by saying:
I think we had a great season, I think we can be extremely happy looking at the progress we made from the year before. This year we were able to improve the car significantly from last year, but we are not close enough yet, we’re still not the favorite and our target is to do a bigger step. It’s clear that we need to improve our car and also the engine side, which means not only horsepower but also involves the whole of the Power Unit. Obviously I don’t know what happens behind other doors, but I know what’s happening in Maranello and it looks very promising.The worst moment of the season was when I crashed against the barriers in Mexico, the best moment was in Malaysia: just two weeks before I had had my first race with Ferrari and two week later my first win, it was fantastic…
I’ve liked the Abu Dhabi track since the beginning, it’s a nice place and even though we haven’t had so many races here, it already feels like a classic place to go. I think people here put a lot of efforts in trying to make us comfortable. It’s a bit like Disneyland, in terms of facilities and so on; it couldn’t be any better. I think the track is great, there are a lot of different types of corners, unfortunately not so many high speed corners, but for the rest you have everything you need and racing at night is always something special. Compared to the opening year, when there was more downforce in the car, now it’s a bit more fun, especially in the last sector you have to make sure to find the rhythm, otherwise you can drop your laptime.
In contrast to Vettel, team mate Kimi Raikkonen had an extremely difficult season in 2015 and only managed to claim two podium finishes which has led once again to the media questioning Ferrari’s decision to re-sign the Iceman for next season, however speaking in Abu Dhabi Maurizio Arrivabene defended the decision (which he shouldn’t have to do) saying that Kimi creates a good balance in the team and he is sure that the Finn will be strong next season.
Raikkonen had a better year in 2015 compared to last season and goes into this weekend’s race in fifth place just one point behind fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas, the man many expected to replace Raikkonen next season.
Raikkonen hasn’t had many on track highlights this season which he says happens and he found this year at times to be a little frustrating. However off track he said in the Abu Dhabi paddock on Thursday the highlight was the birth earlier this year of his son Robin. Speaking ahead of Sunday’s race, the Iceman commented by saying:
This year was better than last one, but I’m still far away from where I wanted to be. We’ve had five DNFs and of course we paid a lot of points from those, we had too many issues and mistakes. As a team, though, we’ve gone a long way from last year, we all want to get Ferrari back where it was some years ago and everybody is pushing for that. Our car has been pretty good everywhere so I don’t expect it to be different here in Abu Dhabi, it’s all about doing things correctly and then you’ll get the result. Hopefully we can have a strong last race: it would be nice to leave it like that. I have no regrets on anything, this year has been like that and next year we’ll start all over again. Hopefully we’ll be able to challenge on every race weekend, time will tell. We’ll see next year when we start testing. In 2016 we have to do a better job overall, we’ll start the new year from a clean sheet and we’ll go from there. It will be interesting.