Carlos Sainz has conceded to enduring an "upsetting" season with Ferrari that has delivered numerous highs and lows.
Sainz has scored a career-high seven podiums this year, including a maiden F1 win from a debut pole position at the British Grand Prix, following up with another pole in Belgium, albeit courtesy of power unit penalties for Red Bull's Max Verstappen.
Conversely, Sainz endured early race retirements of his own making in the Australian and Emilia Romagna Grands Prix, technical retirements in Azerbaijan and Austria and has not been immune to the strategic mistakes that have plagued team-mate Charles Leclerc.
In addition, the Spanish driver struggled to get on top of the F1-75 earlier in the year when Leclerc made hay with two wins and a second place from the first three races.
Asked how he had processed such a rollercoaster campaign, Sainz replied: “It's been rather upsetting.
"I’ve found it very frustrating, that after so many good years in Formula 1, I come into my first year having a competitive car and it's the car that I struggle the most with driving.
“I find it incredibly frustrating, especially knowing how good I am and how good I've been the last few years in Formula 1, how, in the first year that I have a car to win, I find it such a difficult car to drive for my driving style and to set it up for my liking.
“But then the growth progress has been huge during the season and I managed to find a much better level.
“But then as my championship hopes were starting to pick up, I had this DNF in Austria that completely stole the positive trend.
“Since then it's been the penalty in France, the difficult race in Hungary, the podium in Spa, but even if I've been a lot more competitive since Canada and Silverstone, it's still been difficult to get a bit of a run of good results.”
Sainz senses titles just around the corner
If Sainz has struggled to digest on occasion the volatile nature of his season, he can appreciate he at least has a platform on which to build for next year when it is hoped he can produce a more robust championship challenge.
"What makes me the happiest of all is that it looks like the team has turned a corner in terms of pure raw performance, and this year we've had a great car," added Sainz.
“We've had great opportunities to win races. The team is back to being competitive and I know if I get myself at the level I can be, which recently has been a lot closer, then there are going to be a lot of opportunities in the future.
"We're going to improve, keep improving as a team and make sure that we also get to a level where we're winning championships.
"But that means we need to perform at an incredible level, between all of us, and I'm going to do my best to help the team and help myself to get to that level.”