Ferrari are eyeing a spot on the podium in the Australian Grand Prix behind the tearaway Mercedes pair, after off-season recruit Sebastian Vettel qualified on the second row of the race grid on Saturday. The four-time world champion, who switched to the Italian giants from Red Bull, finished fourth in qualifying behind the crack Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg to give Ferrari a shot at some points after a poor 2014 season.
While Vettel and teammate Kimi Raikkonen were around 1.4 to 1.5secs slower than Hamilton’s best lap time of 1:26.327 it was a big improvement for Ferrari, who were a well-beaten fourth behind Mercedes in last season’s constructors’ championship. “We can be happy with the whole weekend,” Vettel said. “It is a shame to miss only the tiny bit to be P3. But the battle for the podium is on for tomorrow. “A pity to miss a tiny bit only. For the team it must be satisfying and we can be happy to be in P4 and P5.
“The gap with the two cars in front is huge. But everyone is happy. “Team Ferrari and all the staff are very motivated and have a great spirit.” Brazilian Felipe Massa, who was third-fastest in qualifying in his Williams, said he senses a big improvement in Ferrari. “Mercedes are in a different category. For sure it’s not great to see this difference, but we keep working, we keep fighting and I hope we can get as close as we can,” Massa said. “Red Bull is not really there for the moment and I am sure that Red Bull will get there because they are really strong.
“Last year they finished in front of us, and I am sure they are going to come but for the moment Ferrari is really strong and they have made a big step forward compared to last year. “So I am sure tomorrow we need to be a bit more worried about Ferrari but we need to keep our eyes open for Red Bull and even for the others.” Daniel Ricciardo finished a struggling seventh in his Red Bull and had his problems as he bids to become the first Australian in 35 years to win his home GP on Sunday.
“We made progress through the session which is promising, it was so good to feel the car for once and push it properly,” Ricciardo said. “I think seventh is where we are now and I’m happy we achieved that as the weekend hasn’t gone well until now and qualifying was the first time I used the soft tyre. “I’m really happy with seventh as realistically that’s the best we could have done today. The progress we made through qualifying is real and hopefully we can carry that on for the race.”