Sebastian Vettel says Ferrari needs to work "better" rather than harder if it is to make the step required to end Mercedes' Formula 1 championship domination.
Mercedes sealed its sixth consecutive constructors' championship in last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, and Lewis Hamilton is on course to give it a sixth straight drivers' title too.
Vettel thinks the key to Ferrari halting Mercedes' run is to focus primarily on ensuring it always performs at its best.
"I don't think we're lacking anything," said Vettel. "I think we just need to work better.
"We are very committed, working very hard but it's not yet on the level that can be achieved.
"Obviously Mercedes have shown that in the last years that you can do better and they've been able to maintain that. I think we are not in that position."
Vettel admitted Ferrari still needs to concentrate on overcoming its obvious performance deficits so it can hit the ground running next year.
"There's still room for improvement," he said. "I think we've learned a lot about our car, the weaknesses.
"We've improved it but we're still not there so... We've had a strong couple of races but overall I think we're still a little bit behind."
And Vettel made clear that Ferrari has no room for such weaknesses in any aspect of its performance if it is going to take on a team as strong as Mercedes.
"Obviously you can't see what they are doing but I think from the outside they are very close to perfection every time they go out on track," he said.
"So very consistent, very little mistakes. That's certainly also part of what makes them so strong.
"If you clinch the constructors' title with four races to go there's a lot of things you do better than all the others.
"If you go into detail then you can argue what their car is maybe doing better than ours but I don't think that's the point overall. It's a team effort.
"As I said, I think we do have the ingredients, we do have the commitment, we do have the intelligence but we just need to do it better.
"It's a lot of small things; it's not one thing that we need to improve, it's a lot of small things that we need to do better, every single one of us and that's the only way that we can try and step up.
"Hopefully they get a bit bored. We will see what happens."