Suddenly, Ferrari’s team boss is making plans to actually fulfil a tongue-in-cheek pre-season pledge.
As he played down the team’s hopes for 2015, Maurizio Arrivabene quipped before Melbourne that if the 2015 car wins four races this year, “I will run without shoes to the Maranello hills”.
But already at the second round of the season in Malaysia, Sebastian Vettel clocked up victory number one.
Arrivabene, newly arrived in red, is now making plans to fulfil his pledge, according to the Ferrari insider and blogger Leo Turrini.
Turrini, revealing that Arrivabene’s route will be the 70 kilometres from Maranello to Sestola, said the Ferrari chief asked him over dinner: “If we win five, will you come with me?”
Much of the credit for Ferrari’s surprising turnaround is going to James Allison, the Briton and former Lotus designer who is now technical director.
The SF15-T is the first Ferrari he has had total responsibility for, as he adopted the old Ross Brawn format of overseeing not only the chassis side but also the engine.
“I did not design a single screw on the car,” Allison is quoted as saying. “My job is to decide what parts are worthy of being further developed.”
He played down the comparison with Brawn, but Ferrari’s drivers are notably happy with the Allison-overseen 2015 package.
Malaysia winner Vettel is not even ruling out a title tilt.
“That’s why I signed up,” said the German. “That’s our goal and that’s the mission, to bring the world championship back to Maranello.”
Some have downplayed Ferrari’s Sepang victory as due to the tyres uniquely surviving the extreme temperatures seen in Malaysia.
But Kimi Raikkonen says the SF15-T is simply good.
“Obviously,” the Finn is quoted by Autosprint, “the circuit, the weather and everything else plays an important part in any result.
“But that does not take away from the fact that we have a strong package,” Raikkonen added. (GMM)