Fernando Alonso may have been forced to retire from the Australian Grand Prix, but the Spaniard felt he enjoyed "one of my best races" given McLaren's miserable pre-season.
The Woking-based team endured a torrid time preparing for the 2017 campaign, with both Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne suffering regular issues throughout testing.
Such problems were evident again during practice and qualifying, Alonso their top performer as he claimed 13th place on the grid.
Yet Alonso was surprisingly competitive, in relative terms, on Sunday and looked on course for a top-10 finish until he encountered technical woe with seven laps remaining.
Having tried to fend off Esteban Ocon and Nico Hulkenberg, the two-time world champion then reported a suspension problem and was forced to retire.
After a better showing than many expected, Alonso admitted to being surprised McLaren were not propping up the field.
"I was driving one of my best races so far and we were surprisingly in the points all race long," he told Sky Sports.
"We are last in terms of performance. We were 10th because the qualifying lap yesterday was good, at the start I managed to gain one position and then Grosjean's retirement gave us the other one.
"In normal conditions on a normal circuit we should be last and second last."
Poca velocidad, ahorro combustible, rotura de la suspensión al final....pero muy orgulloso del equipo aquí en la pista y una las mejores carreras de mi vida. Not quick enough, fuel saving, and suspension failure at the end...but very proud of the team here and one of my best races in F1. _______________________________ #race #14 #f1 #fa14 #melbourne #australia
He added: "Few times I've had such an uncompetitive car, without any winter preparation, having to save fuel in a brutal way - I think we had to lift about a second per lap - and even so we were in the points.
"It was a pretty big surprise what we were doing, but in the end we couldn't complete it. But it was probably one of the best races I've had."