Formula 1

F1 bosses expect Sebastian Vettel to rebound in 2015

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Team bosses new and old are expecting big things from Sebastian Vettel in his debut year at Ferrari in 2015.

The German endured a difficult final year with Red Bull as an under performing Renault power unit prevented the RB10 from maintaining a strong challenge to the dominant Mercedes.

Indeed after reeling off nine straight wins to close off 2013, Vettel had only his second winless year during his F1 career with the other being his rookie season at Toro Rosso in 2007.

It was also the first time the 27-year-old had been beaten by his team-mate over the course of a season as Daniel Ricciardo announced his arrival at the front of the grid being the only non-Mercedes driver to win a race, claiming three victories in Canada, Hungary and Belgium and finishing third in the Drivers' standings 71 points clear of Vettel.

A surprise move

While his frustration with Red Bull's lack of competitiveness had been apparent even from pre-season testing, few would have expected the German's next move as he announced his decision to join Ferrari for 2015 replacing the now McLaren-bound Fernando Alonso.

The Scuderia have also endured a rough spell, failing to meet expectations and generally finding themselves inferior to their rivals in all areas.

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This year, however, marked the beginning of major change at Maranello to reverse the backward trend in recent years as Sergio Marchionne replaced long-time Chairman Luca di Montezemolo and Maurizio Arrivabene became the third team principal of the year replacing Stefano Domenicali's replacement Marco Mattiacci.

Ferrari hope to benefit from Vettel success

So with both sides looking for a major step forward in 2015 it is unsurprising that the recent success Vettel had is seen as key to boosting Ferrari next season.

"Vettel brings with him the experience of winning, he has his four world titles and the enthusiasm to work together," Arrivabene told GPUpdate.net.

"He certainly wants to make the team grow alongside us. Having said that, even though drivers may be luxury employees they are still employees and they must work together with others."

Indeed Vettel's new team boss believes his well-known friendship with his new team-mate Kimi Raikkonen could be a valuable asset in pushing the Prancing Horse up the grid next year.

"I think Sebastian is well equipped for the job that awaits him. He gets on very well with Kimi and this is a positive element, even if I hope that they won't get on quite so well on the track, because the rule must remain that your team-mate is your main opponent."

Vettel better after torrid 2014

Vettel's old team boss Christian Horner agrees that the four-time world champion will remain a threat at the front of the grid in 2015 believing the largely negative experience of his final year at Red Bull will have improved the German as a driver.

"I think it was a very difficult year for him - a character building year, in many respects," he told Autosport.

"He's had a lot of bad luck and things didn't go his way more often than not.

"On top of that, he was not happy in the car with the regulation changes from 2013 into 2014."

Benefiting from Ricciardo threat

Horner also believes the impact of having a team-mate on level terms, as Ricciardo was in 2014, while it may have been a factor in his decision to switch to Ferrari, was also something new for Vettel to deal with.

"He's a tremendously talented guy and I think it's the first time he's had a team-mate who has challenged him as well.

"Again, that is a different dynamic that he's had to deal with [because] he's always had team-mates covered in the past.

"It's been a difficult year, but not once has he let his chin drop or kicked the team.

"I think ultimately he'll take away a lot of valuable lessons from this year."

Vettel ready for new challenge

Certainly Formula 1 can look forward to a rejuvenated and re-energised Sebastian Vettel in 2015. To come down from the highs that he achieved in those four consecutive championship winning seasons, to all of a sudden not have that winning feeling would have been quite a shock to the system.

There is the pressure on the German to fill the void of Fernando Alonso, after all he was a driver capable of dragging an inferior car into battles few thought he could join, and that is an area of Vettel's ability where some still cast doubt particularly after his struggles this year.

History could be repeated

But the thought of being part of a Ferrari renaissance, much like his hero Michael Schumacher was when he joined in 1996, will relight the motivation Vettel has for Formula 1 even if he isn't a fan of its current direction.

While most are not expecting to hear another sequence of German and Italian national anthem's in 2015, if the restructuring current taking place reaps rewards then from 2016 onwards don't be surprised if a Vettel-led Ferrari isn't part of what could be one of the sport's most competitive eras in history.

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