Sebastian Vettel says the 2018 season has been his toughest since joining Formula One in 2007. The German lost out to Lewis Hamilton in the fight for five world championships after a dramatic loss of form in the middle of the season.
Vettel needed to win the Mexican Grand Prix as well as the two remaining rounds of the championship to stand any chance of winning the championship ahead of Hamilton, who only needed to score five points in the last three rounds to wrap up the title.
With Ferrari having the stronger package for much of the season until late-season upgrades cost the Scuderia dearly, Vettel had been looking the most likely of the two to win the title but errors in Germany, Italy and Japan realistically ended his hopes of a fifth world title in 2018.
Asked after the Mexican Grand Prix if he felt that 2018 was his most difficult year in the sport, Vettel confirmed that it had been in some respect looking back at the season.
"Maybe, I don't know - I need to think about it but in some regards, definitely yes.
"It was definitely different to other years but nevertheless I think we shouldn't neglect the fact that we had a very strong package, we were able to win races, we're not in contention any more for the drivers' championship but we can fight for the constructors'.
"So, even if it has been a difficult year, I think still it's been a good year for us as a team.
"We're still improving - but certainly there were also things that became apparent that need fixing in order to do that final step that we are looking for."
Although errors in the German and Italian Grands Prix might have been more high profile, Vettel admitted it was in fact losing the Singapore Grand Prix pole to his rival was what stung most looking back. It marked the beginning of the end for his hopes of the championship.
"None of the two, to be honest, for me it was more Singapore.
"From Singapore onwards we just didn't have the pace to keep up with Mercedes for a couple of races, and then obviously some other things happened on top that didn't help.
"We couldn't score the points due to mistakes that we did, mistakes that I did.
"I can't be too hard on myself with what happened in Germany because I've done much bigger mistakes this year, but obviously it was the most costly one.
"It's part of racing: when you push you might be sometimes pushing a little bit too hard."