Ferrari's Carlos Sainz has labelled the first half of the 2022 Formula 1 as a "nightmare", but added he was pleased with his recovery in the second segment of the campaign.
The F1-75 machine proved to be the quickest car at the beginning of the season, as Red Bull struggled with reliability and weight concerns while Mercedes were suffering from porpoising but could not work around the issue like Ferrari.
Sainz followed home teammate Charles Leclerc for a 1-2 in the season-opener but was unable to match his teammate, who opened up a huge points lead at the top of the standings.
The Spanish driver then suffered two DNFs in Australia and at Imola, the former being his own fault after beaching the car in the gravel on the second lap.
Despite this patchy form, Sainz was positive when reflecting on the season, one in which he took a maiden Grand Prix victory at the British GP.
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Sainz reflects on 'nightmare'
In the second half of the campaign after the summer break, Sainz was a lot closer to teammate Leclerc, taking a first career pole on merit in dry conditions in the United States.
However, he was still beaten by Leclerc by 62 points in the final standings, having racked up six DNFs across the season including further back-to-back ones in Japan and the US.
Despite this, the second year Ferrari driver was pleased with how he recovered his form at a time when the car was not as competitive compared to the team's main rivals.
"It's clear that we had a tough start to the season especially on my side, as we didn't maximise when the car was at its strongest," Sainz told media, including RacingNews365.com, after wrapping up a career-best fifth place in the Drivers' standings.
"In the second half of the season, I've been a lot stronger, but as a team we know we need to improve race execution next year.
"We also need to improve on development as we got out-developed by Red Bull and Mercedes [throughout the season].
"I'm keen to start the new season as this one was a bit of a nightmare for me, especially in the first half, but then I managed to recover the pace and my feeling with the car so I was a lot stronger and am looking forward to starting next season with better pace."
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