Ferrari is in celebration mode after claiming its first Formula One win in more than 18 months and its first in Melbourne since 2005.
Sebastian Vettel and the Scuderia pit wall capitalised on a strategic miscalculation on Mercedes’s part that left Lewis Hamilton stuck in traffic and allowed Sebastian Vettel to build a gap big enough to make a free pit stop from the lead.
The win wasn’t simply fortuitous, however, with Vettel and his car’s easy use of the Pirelli ultrasoft tyre key to maximising his first stint.
“I think we realised early on that we had decent pace,” Vettel said. “I was able to follow Lewis.
“Once it was clear that he went in, there was no point to follow. We stayed out, the tyres were still holding on and the pace looked all right.”
“The car was really good, working well and I could control the gap and the pace. I was very pleasant.
“We did a very good race, I’m very happy with the calls today.”
Few would have imagined that Ferrari would be in a position to win a race in 2017, never mind the season-opening grand prix, at the end of last year when the team appeared to be in turmoil.
Technical director James Allison departed the team in the middle of the year, and as the car’s performance tailed off relative to the rest of the field, so too did the morale inside the team taper off.
However, under former engine chief, now technical head, Mattia Binotto, the project came together during the offseason and delivered an ambitious car capable of delivering results last year’s model could not.
“I think if you’re not part of the team, it’s difficult to realise [that] what this team has done in the last six months has been really tough — rough as well — and not easy to manage.
“Obviously today is fantastic, a big reward for everyone.”
Vettel credited the work ethic of his team as the driver of its progress up the field.
“Obviously there has been a big reshuffle, but as I said, people are happy to work. That’s the key.
“At the end there’s no shortcut; you need to get the job done and invest a lot of hours thinking. Passion, I think, is a great driver back in the factory [and] also here.”
Notable for his relative absence this season after piling on pressure at the beginning of 2016 is Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne.
Marchionne has maintained a low profile while his team has gone about its business, but the company leader released a statement shortly after his team’s victory.
“It was about time,” read the statement. “I am delighted for the team and for our tifosi who stood by us throughout this whole period.
“We’ve been waiting for this victory for almost a year and a half. Hearing the Italian national anthem again was very moving.
“Of course this victory is something to share with the entire team, both at the circuit and back in Maranello, because teamwork is the only way to achieve major goals.
“Now, however, it is absolutely essential to remember that this is not the destination but the first step on a long road that must see us all focused on improving each and every day.”