Melbourne: Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel Thursday played down fears he could fall out with new team-mate Kimi Raikkonen after his big switch to Ferrari this season.
Vettel moved from Red Bull, where he struggled behind Australian Daniel Ricciardo as Mercedes romped away with both the drivers and constructors world titles last year. The German has had trouble in the past with team-mates, notably Australian Mark Webber, but he does not believe there will be any issues with the sometimes surly Raikkonen.
Sebastian Vettel. Pic/ AFP
"To be honest, no. I've known Kimi now for a while. I think we respect each other, he's very straightforward, honest which I appreciate for a lot," Vettel said of the Finn. "For sure, we try and beat each other on the track which is normal but if there are some issues I think we are old enough to talk about it and sort it out." Heading into his Ferrari debut at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Vettel said the Italian team has improved from last year when they finished fourth in the constructors championship.
"Generally the atmosphere is very positive. Obviously, there has been a lot of change over the winter but people have been working very hard and we have definitely improved as a team," he said. "So now we'll see when we get the chance to put the car on the track and see where the others run, especially on Saturday (qualifying) we'll know a little bit more. "It depends on the form of the other teams as well but I think we've made a step, we're yet to find out how big the step is and it depends. "As we saw last year there are chances to win races, not just for Mercedes. If you put yourself in a strong position at the beginning of the season and if something happens you're there."
Vettel added that he has no safety concerns despite the questions over McLaren driver Fernando Alonso's crash in testing and concussion which forced him out of Sunday's race. "I think no one wants to send us onto the track when they believe something's not right," he said. "We have far too much of a team spirit in all the teams I would say to let that happen. When the team decides it's safe to run, it's safe to run."