Sebastian Vettel says he is searching for the “ultimate satisfaction” of winning his fifth Formula One world title driving for Ferrari ahead of this weekend’s season opener in Australia.
The single-minded German, who strung together four world championships with Red Bull before switching to Ferrari in 2015, is looking for his third Australian Grand Prix win in Melbourne on Sunday.
Vettel, 30, is in a duel this season with defending Mercedes world champion Lewis Hamilton as they chase 1950s Argentine legend Juan Manuel Fangio’s mark of five world titles – second only to Michael Schumacher’s seven in the all-time list.
Vettel, who finished runner-up behind Hamilton in last year’s world championship, is confident he has the car to take down the Englishman and said it would be even more special to do it with Ferrari.
“After you’ve won a little bit it becomes a bit special to win against the best,” Vettel told a media conference on Thursday. “Now I am searching for the ultimate satisfaction to win with Ferrari, which is the greatest team in history.”
‘We are in good shape’
Hamilton and Vettel have dominated F1 over the last decade with four world titles each and are expected to again fight out this season’s championship with the Red Bulls of Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen vying to make it a three-way battle.
“That’s my ultimate target now . . . [to] win for Ferrari and win against the best, which arguably Lewis is one of them.”
Vettel, who trumped Hamilton in last year’s Melbourne GP, has won 47 of his 199 GPs going back to his F1 debut with Toro Rosso in 2007.
“It’s a long season. If it’s one race that’s a different story, but there are a lot of races,” Vettel said.
“Based on winter testing I would say we are in good shape and could be in better shape, but it’s always like that.”
Vettel said it was far too early to talk about equalling Fangio’s five world crowns heading into the first of the 21-race season.
“Certainly, if it did happen then you would start to realise, but now I don’t see the point of thinking ‘what if?’” he said.
“I think nowadays the times are different, they are very different times to what Fangio achieved. Every era has its own challenges, certainly they were different back then. It’s not in my mind now.”