Sebastian Vettel's tradition of naming his Formula One cars has continued with the christening of 'Loria', his 2018 Ferrari.
Traditionally Vettel names his car during a pre-race dinner with his team of engineers and mechanics. Speaking about the decision after Friday practice in Melbourne, he joked he aims to trigger a naming boom in Italy with a championship for Ferrari this year.
"Loria... so we invented a new name!" he said when asked about the name of his new car. "I don't know, maybe this year if we do really well then at least in Italy there will be some girls named Gloria as well, so that would be nice!
"We sit together every year and try to come up with something funny and there's a bit of a reason behind it. Let's see. It's just the beginning of the story, maybe we will add a letter here or there at the end of the year..."
Vettel's habit of naming his cars has become a popular one in Formula One and is usually revealed at the opening race. The practice stretches back to his 2008 season with Toro Rosso, during which he won his maiden F1 race at Monza with the car named 'Julie'.
He started his first year at Red Bull in 2009 with 'Kate', before a mid-season chassis change forced the introduction of 'Kate's Dirty Sister'. In 2010 he won the title with 'Luscious Liz' and 'Randy Mandy'. His run of championship success continued with 'Kinky Kylie' in 2011, 'Abbey' in 2012 and 'Hungry Heidi' in his record-breaking 2013 campaign. He rounded off his Red Bull career with the winless 'Suzie'.
The switch to Ferrari in 2015 did not end the tradition. He started his time at Maranello with 'Eva' in 2015 and claimed three race victories. He opted for a more Italian flavour in 2016 with 'Margherita' for the less memorable SFH-16, which failed to claim a race victory. In 2017 he led the championship for most of the year with 'Gina'. 'Loria' will hope to do what 'Gina' could not and win Ferrari its first drivers' championship since 2007.
Rolex Australian Grand Prix Schedule on ESPN Networks (all times Eastern)
Thur., March 22
Practice 1 9 p.m. ESPN3
Friday, March 23
Practice 2 1 a.m. ESPN3
Practice 3 10 p.m. ESPNEWS
Sat., March 24
Qualifying 2 a.m. ESPN2
Sun., March 25
On the Grid 12:30 a.m. ESPN2
Race 1 a.m. ESPN2
Race (encore) 11 a.m. ESPN2
Race (encore) 1 p.m. ESPNEWS
Race (encore) 9 p.m. ESPNEWS