Fernando Alonso insists the 2011 season has not been too disappointing for Ferrari, despite winning just one race so far. But the Spaniard conceded the Maranello squad must raise its game for 2012 in order to be able to fight for the championship again.
"Not a disaster, but for sure when you race for Ferrari there are a lot of expectations," said Alonso ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. "People expect us to win many races and to fight for the championship and we weren't able to do that. We understand that the season was not the best for our fans and for ourselves.
"We need to improve. We need to raise our level for next year and we need to fight at the top of the podium from race one. That's the ambition for next year and that's the target. We know that the competition is strong.
"Red Bull will be very strong as well next year. McLaren will be very strong as well. Mercedes I guess they will improve a lot. We need to extract the best from ourselves this winter and arrive in March with the best Ferrari possible," Alonso added.
The two-time champion says he is still motivated to try and finish second in this year's championship, but he admits it is more important to try to focus on preparing for next season as best as possible.
"It's better to finish second than fourth or fifth. But we are competitive people. We like to win and when we cannot be first it's not the same," he said. "It's much more important to learn things for next year, to gain half a tenth for next year than to finish second in the championship.
"But, at the same time, I see all the mechanics, the engineers really pushing to get to second place because we know the tough year we had, so for them I will try to do my best, for sure."
The Ferrari driver also downplayed the results of last year's race in Abu Dhabi, despite finishing a disappointing seventh that meant he lost the title to Sebastian Vettel.
"I'm still convinced that last year we didn't lose the championship here in Abu Dhabi. We were not very competitive. We finished seventh, and maybe a realistic result here last year was fifth. But in Valencia and Silverstone we were fighting for podiums and we scored a zero, so I think that's where we lost the championship."