Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari "can't be proud" of its 2016 season after failing to fight for the championship, but the German believes the team was stronger than results suggest.
The Italian squad started the year with the goal of challenging Mercedes for the titles, but has failed to win a race and will finish third behind Red Bull in the standings.
Vettel, fourth in the drivers' standings, still believes Ferrari made a step forward compared to last year, when it won three races, but he admits the team failed to meets its goals.
"All in all, I think the car has been a very good step from last year," said Vettel on Thursday ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
"I think our performance was actually better than the results have shown at times, but circumstances weren't always the best.
"Nevertheless we can't be proud of this year because we came into the season wanting to fight for the championship and we did not, so the target for next year is very clear.
"It's an enormous challenge for all the teams, including ourselves, to get the cars ready for next year with so many changes, but that's what we are here for."
Despite its disappointing season, the German reckons Ferrari has been unfairly criticised often.
"I think the strongest point that we have is the experience of the team," he said. "Very often they get criticised but I don't think it's justified. We are working very hard, people are very committed."
Vettel believes Ferrari could still have a strong end to the season in Abu Dhabi, where he expects his car to be well-suited to the track.
"We are here to fight. I've said it many times that the season hasn't gone the way we wanted but we are here to fight until the end. In general it should be a good track for us. I don't see why not."