Pierre Gasly has suggested AlphaTauri's disappointing F1 season was due to the AT03 being "massively overweight".
The French driver, who joins Alpine for next season to replace Aston Martin-bound Fernando Alonso, backed the core ability of the car, despite the team finishing ninth in the constructors' standings.
After enjoying its best F1 campaign in 2021, the Faenza-based squad had hoped the budget cap and new aerodynamic regulations would provide further improvement this season.
Gasly was even being backed to lead AlphaTauri to challenge for a top-five position in the constructors' standings, only for a lack of competitiveness to leave him and team-mate Yuki Tsunoda powerless to fight on track.
The 2020 Italian Grand Prix winner, who scored points on only six occasions, said: “It was a tricky year because there were obviously very high expectations coming from last season.
"There was a great momentum, a change of regulations with the target from F1 to put the field more together. So my hopes to have the best year for AlphaTauri were never as high as they were at the start of the season.
“I really thought we would have our chance with the budget cap coming in, so we would have no reason not to outperform all the midfield teams."
Although AlphaTauri failed to start the year as expected, Gasly said he "didn’t really care so much" at the time as he "knew it would be a race of development throughout the year".
He added: "It doesn’t matter where you start, we just needed to put this development on the car race after race and unfortunately, we didn’t manage to do that.
“I do believe the core of the car was great but we were just massively overweight the whole season. And just on that, it cost us a lot in qualifying. I do believe that was the main issue.
“Clearly, we didn’t perform anywhere near what we would have liked and personally what I would have liked with the team.”