Sergio Perez reckons he could have scrapped with Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel for second at the European Grand Prix, had he not been handed a grid penalty for a gearbox change.
Perez crashed out of the final practice session on Saturday and the damage to his car meant he required an unscheduled gearbox change.
Perez qualified on the front row of the grid but the sanction demoted him to seventh; however, he made progress during the race at the Baku City Circuit to move into third on the final lap.
"No, I don’t think so," he said when asked by F1Zone.net if the grid penalty cost him a shot at victory.
"I don’t think we could have fought Nico. He was very strong, in another league, but certainly I would have had a really good fight with Sebastian for P2."
Perez added that remaining calm while his tyres grained early in the race was crucial to him finishing the race on the podium.
"I knew that the podium was possible but it was very hard, very hard work to get it," he explained.
"We really did an incredible first lap to get around the Williams and the Toro Rosso. I think that was one of the keys.
"The first laps were really difficult with the graining. Just basically not panicking.
"The easiest thing would have been to stop when the graining occurred, especially when Kimi [Raikkonen] and some people behind stopped and we decided to stay longer. It cleaned up. That was one of the keys of my race."