MANAMA (Reuters) - Sebastian Vettel will make his 200th Formula One race start on Sunday in Bahrain, a milestone the Ferrari driver thought he had already celebrated and would be happy to repeat if the result is the same.
“I thought I had the 200th already in Australia (two weeks ago) as somebody was saying. So maybe I have twice the 200,” the German told reporters.
“If we have the same result as well, then I’m looking forward to it.”
The season-opener in Melbourne was the 200th race Vettel had entered but Sunday’s race at Sakhir will be the 200th the four times world champion has actually started since his debut in 2007.
Vettel won at Albert Park, snatching victory from Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton thanks to a fortunately-timed virtual safety car that handed him, as Vettel himself conceded, a decisive lucky break.
With Hamilton’s Mercedes enjoying a clear speed advantage over Ferrari in Australia, Vettel might need another dose of luck on Sunday.
“We have enough clever people to know that we are not quick enough yet,” said the German, pegging Mercedes’ advantage at between three and four tenths of a second.
“It’s also a no-brainer that... Mercedes at this stage is quicker.”
The 30-year-old won in Bahrain last year, when Ferrari returned to championship-fighting form for the first time since 2012.
Vettel said Ferrari’s showing in Australia and the opportunistic win had only further fired up spirits in Maranello, even if there was work to do to catch up Mercedes.
“We are very motivated to turn the page and do that final step (winning the championship),” said the German, who could become the first driver since Michael Schumacher in 2004 to open the season with consecutive wins for Ferrari.
“I’ve said many times that is the hardest step to take. But we are very willing to take it.”
Editing by Alan Baldwin