(CNN) -- Sebastian Vettel is hoping to kickstart his season in Bahrain this weekend as he continues his bid to win a third consecutive world drivers' championship.
The German has struggled to repeat his dominance of the past two years in 2012's opening three races, lying fifth in the overall standings 17 points behind McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.
The 24-year-old finished second in Australia, 11th in Malaysia and fifth in China last weekend.
However, he was second in the morning practice session in Bahrain on Friday and then third fastest in the afternoon.
"The target is to win the championship this season, which would make it three in a row," Vettel told CNN.
"At the moment there's a lot of work ahead of us. Maybe we didn't have the best start but it's a long season.
"It looks to be very competitive, everyone looks to be very close to each other, I don't think there's much between the cars. It promises to be quite a tight season and I think that's what the spectators want."
The former Toro Rosso driver can make history this season as only the eighth driver in F1 history to claim three world championships.
He would join an even more elite club of just two other drivers to take three crowns on the trot -- compatriot Michael Schumacher and 1950s legend Juan Manuel Fangio.
Vettel has already racked up 22 race wins in a stellar career, all but one of which have come in the last three seasons.
He's hoping to add to that impressive tally in Bahrain, but refused to get drawn into the debate on civil unrest in the country.
"I think generally it's not for the drivers to decide," he said. "Obviously we have a lot of people behind Formula One trying to organize the race and there's a lot of work involved in that. It's their decision at the end of the day.
"We're looking forward to the Grand Prix this weekend and that's the main thing. Hopefully we can pick up our old form and make sure we get back to the top."