<
>

Sebastian Vettel: Australian Grand Prix win a 'big relief' for Ferrari

play
Legard impressed by Ferrari improvement (1:06)

Jonathan Legard was impressed by Ferrari's victory in Australia and praised the performance of Sebastian Vettel. (1:06)

Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari's first victory in two years is a "big relief" for the team, following his 43rd Formula One career win at the Australian Grand Prix.

Vettel beat Mercedes rivals Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to hand the Scuderia its first win since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix after a successful strategy helped the German leapfrog Hamilton during the pitstops. The German was quick to praise his team's hard work in providing him with a race-winning car.

"[It is] a big reward and big relief for everyone. It's just the tip of the iceberg though, the foundation has been laid a long time ago. I'm sure we'll have a great night, create some great memories tonight and take it from there. We enjoy what we do, the spirit is great in the team and it's up to us to keep it up.

"We say this from the outside but if you're not part of the team it's difficult to realise but what this team has done in the last six months has been really tough, rough as well, not easy to manage the whole team. But I think the new car in general... today is fantastic."

The quadruple world champion says he knew he had to take advantage of any likelihood that Hamilton would be stopping early, having made a strong start in Sunday's race in Melbourne. His pressure ultimately paid off when Hamilton pitted on Lap 18, handing Vettel a crucial 'net' race lead.

"I think we realised fairly early on that we had decent pace, I was able to follow Lewis. Then after 10, 12 laps he was really pushing, trying to open a gap. He succeeded a bit, I was struggling to keep up but still hanging in there.

"I knew if there was anything that would happen at that first stop I needed to be right behind him to either put them under pressure or have a chance to jump into the pits earlier and pass him through the stop. Once it was clear they went in for us there was no point to follow, so we stayed out, the tyres were still holding on and the pace looked alright."

Vettel admits he was worried he had not pulled enough of a gap to Hamilton by the time his own pitstop came after getting caught up behind a backmarker on his in-lap, however, he rejoined ahead of Red Bull's Max Verstappen, which he believes was a defining turning point in the race.

"Then we saw the gap, went into the pits, and it worked. It was tight, I lost a lot of time on the in-lap because I had a lapped car, I think it was a Williams. I lost like a second, so I was quite angry but that's how it goes sometimes.

"It was just enough and I had Max right behind me and Lewis after coming out. Turn 1 was a bit slippery but I managed to get a decent exit and a decent run down to Turn 3 and held the inside, I knew Max would probably try something but I kept in front. That was obviously crucial for our race."