Formula 1

Sebastian Vettel making Schumacher-esque impact at Ferrari claims boss

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Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene has compared the impact by Sebastian Vettel at Maranello to that of the great Michael Schumacher.

The German is preparing for his first season away from Red Bull and his arrival seems to have reinvigorated a Scuderia that has been low in confidence following years of disappointment.

Indeed his first official test in the famous red overalls at Jerez earlier this month saw he and new team-mate Kimi Raikkonen lead the timings over the four days in Spain leading some to believe Ferrari could be the surprise package of the 2015 season.

A renewed optimism

While we won't learn if that is the case until the opening race in Australia in less than four weeks, it is clear that Vettel is bringing a renewed enthusiasm to the Italian team, one that Arrivabene says reminds him of when another former German world champion made the move in 1996.

"I was around in Michael (Schumacher)'s time and I confess that there are times when I look at Vettel and, in some ways, it really seems like a carbon copy of Schumi," he was quoted by

"There are impressive similarities for those who have known both. We all hope that the results are the same as well."

Expectations still tempered

While Arrivabene is undoubtedly impressed by the attitude of the 27-year-old and the early form of Ferrari has given plenty to be positive about, Maranello's third team boss in 10 months is not getting ahead of himself as the F1 field heads to Barcelona for the second of three pre-season tests which begins on Thursday.

"Obviously the most important test will be the last one," he said. "The simple reason is that it is only then that teams must throw away their masks and show their cards for Melbourne.

"Mercedes was hiding at Jerez, and you must always expect positive surprises from Honda," he added.

Indeed Arrivabene issued another warning to the Tifosi saying they should not expect an instant turnaround in the team's fortunes despite the good start in Andalusia just over two weeks ago.

"No one can sell smoke, even if I have worked in tobacco for a living," he said referring to his previous position at former long-time Ferrari sponsor Marlboro.

"I have big dreams but also feet planted in the ground. I say to our fans to believe in the effort we are making, bearing in mind the situation in which we began."

Ferrari on the rebound

Certainly it is good to see Ferrari apparently stopping the downward slide of the past few years and possibly even starting to head back in the right direction, it is also clear Sebastian Vettel has a key role to play in helping push the Prancing Horse back to where it should be.

The German brings an intensity that works more positively in the team that perhaps that Fernando Alonso had but his arrival is far from the only reason for Ferrari's renewed optimism.

Its the modernisation of the process at Maranello with Sergio Marchionne as chairman, Arrivabene as team boss and James Allison as designer that combined with Vettel could become the next 'dream team' in F1.

Schumacher comparison has some grounds

As for the comparison to Michael Schumacher, some of that has to be put down to the 'honeymoon' period as Vettel and Ferrari get to know each other a little better, but there are some obvious similarities between the two German's arrivals at the most famous team on the grid.

Both move after enjoying highly successful periods with other teams, Schumacher had won two titles with Benetton in 1994 and 1995 while Vettel has his four titles following a dominant period with Red Bull and both go to Ferrari looking to bring the team back from a period in the doldrums.

The motivation of their moves are perhaps slightly different as Vettel needed a fresh challenge after being beaten by previous team-mate Daniel Ricciardo last year and also maybe losing some of his passion for the sport following the rule changes last year, but there is certainly the passion and drive for Vettel to make his move to Ferrari a success.

Matching Schumacher's accomplishments will be near impossible given the perceived advantage Mercedes still hold and the competition from the likes of Red Bull and McLaren but while the comparison may seem a little 'over the top' there is certainly plenty of reason to believe it may not be far from the truth.

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