Sebastian Vettel is confident Ferrari has fixed the weaknesses that hampered its 2018 campaign as it looks to finally end its Formula 1 title drought this season. 

A combination of driver errors from Vettel and poor management calls enabled rivals Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton to clinch both world championships, despite the Italian squad arguably boasting the faster car for much of the 2018 season.

Ferrari responded to its latest title capitulation by replacing Maurizio Arrivabene with Mattia Binotto in the role of team principal, while Charles Leclerc has been promoted to partner Vettel following an impressive rookie season with Sauber. 

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Speaking about the changes Ferrari has made during the F1 season launch event in Melbourne ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, Vettel said: “It’s a big change but Mattia has been with the team longer than most of the people that work for Ferrari so he is not a new face. 

“I think people know him and have learned to trust him. For sure it’s a new challenge for the whole team.  We try to turn the page - we obviously had our weaknesses last year and we tried to fix those and do much better this year. 

“So far the spirit is right and the team is on track, the car feels good, so let’s see how we start here.” 

Vettel also revealed he has called his Ferrari’s 2019 challenger - the SF90 - Lina, to continue his tradition of naming each of his F1 cars throughout his career. 

Former technical chief Binotto, who has been largely credited for Ferrari’s recent performance gains as it bids to claim a first F1 title since 2008, added: “We did our homework during the winter and we are now all focused on the season. 

“It’s always nice to start here in Australia but it will be a very long and tough season, so just being focused.”

Newcomer Leclerc has refused to set a specific target for the Melbourne season-opener and insisted he is feeling relaxed ahead of his Ferrari grand prix debut.

“I’m very relaxed and quite ready to get back on track,” Leclerc said. 

“It’s been quite a long break and I think testing went very well. It looked positive so now I just want to race again and I can’t wait for Friday. 

Asked what he is most looking forward to in his first race weekend with the Scuderia, Leclerc replied: “Probably qualifying.

“I think it will be a very good moment and the first time in the season when all the team’s and cars are maxing out their potential so I am very excited to see how it will go.” 

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