Michael Schumacher has reiterated that he not only hopes but truly believes that he can win an eighth World Championship.
The German has been criticised for returning to the sport after a three-year absence, with his results not meeting the expectations of many fans and pundits, with the former Ferrari man yet to stand on the podium in 2010. However, Schumacher insists his return was not a mistake.
"[It was not a mistake] because I enjoy what I'm doing and because I believe in being able to reach my goal - to win the title," he told the official Formula One website in a joint interview with Bernie Ecclestone.
"I have to accept that it will take time. Of course we all in the team believed that we would be more competitive this season. Unfortunately that's not the case," he added.
Asked why he is optimistic about his chances for next year, Schumacher simply replied: 'Because we know and understand the problems that are haunting us now.'
Jenson Button has stated that he feels partly responsible for Schumacher's woe, having moulded the 2009 Brawn GP (now Merc GP) car around his style, but while Schumacher admits this is the case, he insists that with time this will change.
"Every driver has his own driving style and you have to work with the team so that you feel comfortable with the package. I achieved that with Ferrari. But that doesn't happen overnight. It is no secret that at the moment our car has characteristics that don't suit me. Now it is up to us to change that. Then the situation will be different," he explained.
In an apparent attempt to defend Schumacher's performance, Ecclestone said: "When people say that Nico Rosberg is faster than Michael I tell them Nico still has to prove himself. Not so Michael. For Nico fourth places are still important - not for Michael. Only winning is what counts for him. Whether he finishes fourth or 14th doesn't really matter for him. Let's be serious, why should he push to the limit for fourth places?"
However, Schumacher seemed to feel quite differently about the situation.
"I cannot leave that statement unresolved. I always drive at the limit. I do that for myself," said the 41-year-old.
The German concedes that he is not matching the performances of his team-mate, Nico Rosberg.
"With how the car behaves at the moment I am not driving at his level. At least not in qualifying. In the race it's very equal. I know precisely how I can change that fact - and I am working on it."
Schumacher admits that he never believed he could ever claim seven World titles, and acknowledges much of his success came as a result of having a good team around him who provided him with a winning car.
"No, nobody can be that narcissistic," he said.
"Even in my wildest dreams I could not imagine winning more than one title, if at all, because as a driver you depend heavily on the competitiveness of your car. We are not tennis players or other lone sportsmen where it is only your own talent that makes or breaks it.
"But I love it the way it is - that you are part of a team where you have to put performance together like a jigsaw puzzle to be successful, and where everybody needs to be motivated by the others," he added.