Mark Webber believes that a lack of consistency is the only thing standing in the way of a full-scale Formula 1 world title challenge next year.
The Red Bull driver had a strong start to the 2012 campaign, winning the Monaco and British Grands Prix to set himself up for a title challenge. However, a poor second half to the season derailed his efforts and he is now out of contention for the crown.
Reflecting on why the post-Silverstone period was not as good as the start of the season for him, Webber thinks that the answer is simply down to him and his team not delivering to their best potential every time out.
"We had three races on the bounce with penalties, and then a differential problem in Budapest, so we missed points there," he said. "Reliability was pretty sketchy through that middle part. We lost a bit of momentum and then it was probably not the best races for me at Spa and Monza. In Singapore we had a howler with the strategy and before you know it, you are out."
Webber says that not everything has been negative, however, and that he sees reason to feel encouraged by the progress he has made with his single-lap performances on during qualifying.
"Qualifying has been the big step this year for me," he said. "Uncharacteristically I think the consistency has meant the points have not come as often.
"That's the way it has been, but there have been some areas that have improved from last year, like the qualifying, and the racing. But because it has been tighter this year, you get penalized for your mistakes more, whether it is strategy/reliability or whatever. If you are limping and getting a car home that is limping, then you are going to be losing positions.
One specific area in which Webber thinks a big step forward is needed is in the team's start procedures.
"Clearly we need to get much more consistent with our starts," he said. "Last weekend was another example of that. And that loses you a lot.
"In Abu Dhabi, all of a sudden I am back where Jenson [Button] is, who has had a smelly Saturday. You cannot do that week in, week out. That is an area that needs to be improved in the team. Seb [Vettel] went through a bad phase at the start of the season when he had some pretty bad starts as well."