Sebastian Vettel feels Ferrari's recent struggles will pave the way for improvements on its weak areas compared to Mercedes and Red Bull but has ruled out any quick fixes.

After taking three podium finishes in the opening five races and Ferrari looking like the main contenders against the dominant Mercedes, Vettel's run of form has dipped during the middle third of the season with the German's last podium coming back in June at Baku.

As a result, Vettel has slipped to fifth in the F1 drivers' standings while Ferrari has been overtaken by Red Bull in the world constructors' championship after Hockenheim.

Despite the run of poor performances, Vettel is confident Ferrari has been able to identify its weaknesses during its stretch of underwhelming results and knows where it must improve compared to its rivals but concedes the timeframe for the Italian manufacturer's turnaround in form is likely to be lengthy.

"The last couple of races have been harsh and tough for us, but very, very useful," Vettel said. "I think we understood a lot about our car strength and weaknesses about our car, so we know what to focus on, so yeah it wasn't entirely clear after the first couple of races but it became more and more evident, obviously it's a harsh way to find out, not being competitive and not as competitive as we want to.

"I think we know what to do, obviously it's not going to change overnight but there's a plan and I think the second half we should be stronger in that regard. It also depends on what other people do but for that we focus on ourselves."

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With James Allison leaving Ferrari as technical director between Hungary and Germany it is not known how great an impact it will have on the timescale, while Vettel has declined to outline exactly where Ferrari has identified its weak points and explained the gains needed cover wide-ranging elements to the SF16-H.

"I think it's more of a general thing but these things take a bit of time," he said. "Overall the most important is that we're challenging ourselves and obviously you're right, it would have been nicer to find out a bit sooner, but that's how it is.

"The main point is that we find out, we are always trying to improve, but the last races in this regard have been very educational to know potentially where our weaknesses compared to Red Bull and Mercedes."

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