Sebastian Vettel enjoyed a productive start to his first grand prix weekend as a Ferrari driver, posting the third best time in practice for the opening round of the 2015 season.

The German, who transferred from Red Bull over the winter, led a Ferrari 3-4 in pursuit of the all-conquering Mercedes team, and, while admitting that their silver rivals were out of reach for the time being, reported two positive sessions for the Scuderia.

"It was a good day," he confirmed, "We didn't have any issues with the car, and reliability was good, so it seems the hard work we did over the tests was positive. We had a smooth day."

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Expected to find itself in a battle with both his former employer and the re-emerging Williams team, Vettel was pleased to be ahead of both in the day's standings, but reiterated that little could be gleaned from the two Friday sessions.

"In terms of performance, for sure, the higher you are, the better it is, but it's Friday and, having been in F1 for quite a while, I know Friday is not important for lap times.

"It would be nice to stay in front of as many people as we can. I'm sure Mercedes is out of reach - you have to be realistic - but, as I said, the most important thing today is that we ran and didn't have any problems. It was a very, very smooth day and I don't remember the last smooth Friday I had like this."

With team-mate Kimi Raikkonen backing him up with the fourth fastest time of the day, Vettel was optimistic that Ferrari could be a threat for the top five for the remainder of the weekend - something it struggled to achieve last year.

"Let's hope so," he said, "I think it was today and, tomorrow, we will see. For what we did, we should be happy. It's very positive."