Lewis Hamilton believes he would have been fighting at the front with the Red Bull cars during the Spanish Grand Prix were it not for his first-lap crash with Kevin Magnussen.
The Mercedes driver, armed with a much-improved W13 machine, finished fifth in Barcelona despite an incident that left him at the back by the end of Lap 1.
His epic recovery drive showcased the potential being unlocked by his team, while teammate George Russell was able to secure a third career podium.
Speaking to select members of the media, including RacingNews365.com, Hamilton said: “I’m so happy. It felt a lot like some of the old days, the older races that I’ve done.
“It feels amazing. A race like that is like a win; it feels better than most wins when you’ve come from so far back.”
Hamilton explains early team radio call
Hamilton at one stage asked his team if they should retire his car after he found himself at the back of the field, but admits he was wrong to do so.
“I was hoping for a smoother race, without the issue at the beginning,” he continued.
“I was 30 seconds behind last at one stage and, if you think back to Jeddah when I was in 15th and struggled to get into the top 10, I thought it would be impossible to get back into the points.
“But the team said I was on for eighth. I couldn’t understand it at the beginning and I thought they were being super optimistic. But I gave it everything to see where I’d come out and it turns out I was higher than eighth.
“I wasn’t being defeatist, but I was 30 seconds behind and I did not want to have to use a whole engine to drive around in last, or outside the top 15, to then have to take a penalty or something like that.
“But I’m glad we didn’t. It just shows that you never stop, never give up and that’s what we do.”
Hamilton hoping his car can be even better in Monaco
Hamilton believes he could have fought it out for the race win, had he not clashed with Magnussen during the early stages.
But he is confident that his car will be faster in Monaco, should he follow the “experiment” conducted on Russell’s car this weekend.
“Since the last race of the year, it’s been difficult all around,” said Hamilton.
“To then have the difficulties that we have with the car, and then certain knockbacks with Safety Cars and all sorts of things, we kept getting back on the horse and pushing, not giving up.
“We’ve made a lot of improvements with the car and the race pace is much better – it’s much nicer in the race.
“They experimented with something on George’s car that ultimately proved to be the better way to go in qualifying and maybe at the next race I will take that on.
“Without that [clash], I would have been fighting with the Red Bulls.”