Fernando Alonso believes Ferrari was made to look more competitive than it really was at times this year, because of its aggressive approach to racing.
After another challenging race in Brazil, where early hopes of a podium finish were dashed when he struggled for pace on the harder-compound tires, Alonso believes that it has been hard to judge what Ferrari's true form has been this year.
"I think we have been over-performing a little with the soft tire," explained Alonso. "I don't think we had the pace to be in front of the McLarens and, for whatever reason, what we do at the start, we risk in the first couple of laps and we find ourselves in a position that is not our real position in terms of pace, in terms of how quick we are.
"The race puts us in the right position in the last stint and here [in Brazil], it was a summary of the year. We try to maximize the potential of the car in practice, in qualifying, in the race, so we can be extremely happy with the job the team did this weekend.
"I had a fantastic start again, the strategy was perfect, with perfect pit stops and good pace throughout the race, and we finish close to the McLarens. We fight with them all race long so this is very good news.
"We know what we are lacking is only a more competitive car, so we need only six or seven tenths on the car. And with that I am sure that Felipe [Massa] and me will be on the podium very often."
Alonso reiterated that he feels hugely upbeat about Ferrari's prospects for next year, following changes made at the Maranello squad over the course of the campaign.
"The team made huge steps forward," he said. "The team improved massively from last year to this year. We did some mistakes and had some problems in the wind tunnel and the factory, in the restructure of the team and in terms of personnel.
"There are so many changes we have done in the last four or five months to be better inside Ferrari and stronger next year, so we will see the result in 2012. But I am very confident."