Sebastian Vettel has called on Ferrari to take another step forward next season by producing an even quicker car than its 2018 charger, claiming that speed will be the deciding factor.
Vettel and Ferrari were looking like strong contenders for the world title this year before a series of mistakes from both team and driver eroded the Scuderia's chances.
While it hasn't yet succeeded in breaking Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton's hold on the championship, Ferrari's performance level has been steadily trending higher in the past few seasons.
However, Vettel insists another step forward will be required in 2019 for the House of Maranello to get the best of the Mercedes/Hamilton combo.
"I think we need a stronger package," Vettel said.
"We certainly had our moments this year when we had strong races but we also had races which weren’t very strong, we weren’t quick enough, so I think overall it’s the speed that decides and I think more often than not I think we’re lacking a little bit of speed.
"I think we’re working very hard and the motivation is there to do that final step that is still outstanding."
Vettel also underlined the excessive attention placed on the Scuderia's drivers, a focus that somewhat conceals the efforts of the anonymous factory workers whose merits should also be recongnised.
"When we cross the line you look at us first, but there’s a lot of people behind to make sure that you do cross the line and if they do their job really really well and work together then you have a high chance of finishing higher up," he explained.
"So I think it’s needless to say that Lewis (Hamilton) had an incredible run the last five years…since the day he joined Formula 1 until now, to be honest.
"They’re doing a really good job as a team. The challenge to beat such a strong team is difficult but that’s our target."
While a quicker car would allow Ferrari to challenge Mercedes, Vettel emphasized the need for consistency in order to remain competitive over F1's full 21-race schedule.
"We know where we want to go: A lot of work ahead of us, a lot of lessons to be learned again this year," explained the German.
"We have 21 races and in summary, we haven’t been strong enough this year to take the challenge until the last race, the last lap, so I think we need to look at ourselves.
"I think we have the people, we have the resources so it’s more getting the maximum out of our package, improving the work inside our team and making sure that we come up with a stronger package, a stronger team for the future."