Carlos Sainz has rubbished suggestions of a "fundamental problem" at the Ferrari Formula 1 team, insisting the outfit just needs time to learn.
Despite building the fastest car, on average, for the new 2022 rules, Ferrari's first half of the season has been littered with a variety of strategy mistakes and operational errors.
Sainz's teammate, Charles Leclerc, has retired from two races with engine failures while leading, and crashed out in France on his own accord in a similar position.
Ferrari's strategy calls also came under fire in the Hungarian Grand Prix, when they elected to call Leclerc in for Hard tyres, despite other teams avoiding the compound due to a lack of pace and unfavourable conditions.
Ferrari languish 97 points behind Red Bull in the Constructors' Championship, and are faced with the prospect of fighting Mercedes for second place.
However, Sainz still believes Ferrari are on the right course, and that they are currently undergoing growing pains.
Ferrari just need to keep maturing and growing, says Sainz
Sainz finished fourth at the Hungaroring on a conventional Medium-Medium-Soft strategy after starting in second.
Rather than any major problem with the team in Budapest, he was of the opinion that the car just did not work well in the cooler conditions compared with Friday practice.
"Clearly our team needs to keep maturing and needs to keep improving to be able to consistently get wins," he explained to media including RacingNews365.com.
"[During the race in Hungary] I think the pace of the car was just not there.
"And you know, Red Bull had an off day at the Red Bull Ring. No one said Red Bull needs to improve. They were terrible on pace there and we were terrible on pace [here].
"We need to analyse why to make sure it doesn't happen again, because on Friday we were flying in hot temperatures, and [in the race] we were struggling in much cooler conditions, so [it is] something to analyse."
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A lack of consistency across the board at Ferrari
Between them, Leclerc and Sainz have scooped eight poles in 2022, but only have converted those into four wins – three against one for the drivers, respectively.
The duo have also recorded six retirements across the opening 13 races – the most of any team on the grid.
Despite defending the team, Sainz did admit that Ferrari were struggling with consistency in the first half of the season.
"[There's been] a clear lack of consistency in all fronts first," Sainz explained.
"At the beginning of the year with myself, and not being up to speed in the car, and now that we've been fast – I'm feeling a lot better with the car – there's still [some] reliability [concerns], some pit-stop [issues].
"They [are not] allowing us to be as consistent and probably [in Hungary], also myself, I could have done something better for sure.
"We will analyse to see what we can do to be better. Nothing was good.
"It reflects on our people when we should have been on the podium or fighting for the win."
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