Fernando Alonso reckons the only thing lacking in his 2012 campaign was the "car", which meant it was difficult to challenge at the front.
A week after losing the World Championship to Sebastian Vettel by just three points in Brazil, Alonso attended the Ferrari World Finals event at Valencia.
Looking back over this past season, which yielded three victories and a total of 13 podiums, the Spaniard believes it was the type of campaign that makes good drivers "greats".
"This has been a spectacular year, hard to forget, with moments that will never be repeated like the win in Valencia or in Malaysia," said the 31-year-old.
"Ever since I've been at Ferrari, I think I have grown a lot, especially this last year. Before, the people had a more or less good opinion of me, but now I notice a whole different level of respect.
"And then, to be one of the greats of Formula 1, it's not enough to win titles, you must also tackle seasons like the one just ended.
"Next year? I hope to score three or four points more."
He added: "We all agree the one thing lacking was the car, which meant we could not match the best teams for most of the year. It's the only thing we need to improve, but it's also true that it's the hardest thing to do.
"With all the difficulties we had, I'm thinking for example of how far behind we were in winter testing, to be able to fight right to the very end for the title means we are a great team."
As to be expected, Alonso was questioned about the post-season yellow flag controversy.
Ferrari came in for a fair amount of stick for asking the FIA for clarification on Vettel's overtake of Jean-Eric Vergne on lap four in Brazil.
"There were a lot of video clips on the Internet and we knew our fans were asking for an explanation and so it was right for Ferrari to turn to the Federation for a clarification," Alonso explained.
"We got a reply and I think everything has now calmed down. I did not pay much attention to all the uproar this incident caused, but I felt we owed our fans an answer."
The double World Champion also insisted he's not fazed by what others may think of him as reports suggested he was the one to initiate the investigation.
"Frankly, I'm not that interested in what the opinion is of me in Germany or elsewhere.
"What I know is that people who see me in the streets hug me and call me gladiator or samurai. What matters to me are the 1200 people in the Ferrari family, who gave me a standing ovation at a dinner."
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