Scuderia Ferrari is close to making its debut in the 2017 Formula 1 season, as the Australian GP is scheduled to take place this weekend at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, where the Italian team hopes to challenge Mercedes in the first race of Formula 1’s new era.
Ferrari has a reasonably good personal record in Melbourne, with seven wins during the 32 Grands Prix which have been completed in Australia since 1985. Gerhard Berger in 1987 managed the Italian team’s only victory at the old circuit, the Adelaide Street Circuit, which was used to host the Australian GP until 1995, when the race moved to Albert Park. Eddie Irvine again won for the Maranello side in 1999, ahead of Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Ralf Schumacher, while Michael Schumacher is the most successful Formula 1 driver in Australia, with four grand prix winners to his name, in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004. The last driver to win for Ferrari up to date is Kimi Raikkonen, who started from pole position in 2007 and finished comfortably in front of both McLaren-Mercedes drivers, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton, as the other Ferrari driver, Felipe Massa, was given a ten-place grid penalty for an engine change and could only move up to sixth place.
Kimi also won the Australian GP for Lotus-Renault back in 2013, while Sebastian Vettel has only one victory to his name, scored for Red Bull-Renault in the 2011 season.
Scuderia Ferrari matches McLaren when it comes to the Fastest laps managed in the Australian GP (eight for each F1 team, followed by Williams with seven Fastest laps), while the Italian has a very good chance to close the gap with old rivals McLaren in the total number of podium ranking: 22 podium finishes for Scuderia Ferrari so far in the Australian GP, as compared to 26 for McLaren, who will most likely not be able to improve the record in the 2017 Grand Prix.