With the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix being Sebastian Vettel's last Grand Prix with Ferrari before his move to Aston Martin in the upcoming year, it is hard to ignore the impact he left within the team both as a driver and a person.
Unfortunately, it did not bring the championship success we all wanted back, but it did leave some fantastic memories.
2015 Malaysian Grand Prix
One such memory was back at the 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix, which was only Sebastian's second race with the team. His podium finish on his Ferrari debut at the previous race in Melbourne had affirmed the team's progress and the fact that they were now getting closer to champions Mercedes.
Throughout the opening practice sessions of the weekend, it looked to be Ferrari that would be the closest challengers to Mercedes. Despite a poor 2014 where the Italian team struggled to be competitive in the new era of F1 and its V6 Turbo Hybrid Power Units, it was becoming more convincing that Ferrari were on the road to recovery.
Mercedes topped all three practice sessions that weekend, but Ferrari were not far behind, coming within a half of a second of the German team in all three sessions. Qualifying was a much better affair, Vettel slotting his Ferrari on the front row of the grid and missing pole position by only 0.074 of a second.
As the lights went out, Lewis Hamilton held the lead from pole position as Vettel was challenged behind by Nico Rosberg. Ferrari teammate Kimi Räikkönen did not fare well on the first lap with a puncture, but Vettel held on to second place and was able to keep with leader Hamilton during the opening laps.
A trip to the gravel for Sauber's Marcus Ericsson brought out the safety car on lap four, and this saw a change in strategies for the two front running teams. Both Mercedes cars were among those opting to take an early pit stop, as Vettel stayed out and took the lead. On the restart, Mercedes had its work cut out trying to get past the cars that had opted to stay out, while Vettel held onto the lead of the race until his first pit stop on lap 18.
The German re-joined in third position but, with fresher tyres, closed down rapidly on the two Mercedes. He reclaimed second place from Rosberg on lap 22 and set after the lead, which was relinquished by Hamilton upon his second stop on lap 24.
Despite briefly losing the lead during his third and final stop, Vettel came home to cross the line in first position, his first win since the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, and Ferrari's first since Fernando Alonso's victory in Barcelona the same year. In only his second race with the Maranello squad, Vettel had made a lasting impression, and an intention that was set in stone for the seasons to come.
It was the first of three victories Sebastian would take in 2015, adding an emotional win in Hungary and a dominant display in Singapore to the season tally. It was also the start of 14 wins with the Scuderia over his five seasons with the team.
Although the championship chance never really came for Ferrari or Sebastian, multiple moments such as this race will be remembered as special. Finishing his career in third for total number of race wins for the team, only Niki Lauda (18) and Michael Schumacher (72) have more victories in that regard.
Looking ahead, the future is promising. Carlos Sainz, son of the two-time World Rally Champion, will partner Charles Leclerc at the team for the next two seasons. Sainz, a driver who has more than often shown his capabilities in F1 with McLaren in recent years, will be relishing the chance to race for the Scuderia and with such a line-up, the future is indeed looking promising for the team.
However, as Sebastian moves on to pastures new, there's no doubt the love and success he created amongst Ferrari fans will still be alive, and will never be forgotten.
Written by Cóilín Higgins. Join our email list if you’re interested in receiving the latest on our online magazine and store.