Jenson Button says he could have "challenged the Mercedes" for a podium finish had it not been for a mistake by his pit crew.
The McLaren driver was in third place when he entered the pits for his third and final scheduled stop.
A problem fitting a front tyre meant he was delayed and re-entered the action in 14th before eventually retiring.
"At worst it could have been fifth place but I think we could have challenged the Mercedes," Button said.
"When I pitted it would have been my last pit stop, I didn't have to stop again, whereas everyone else did.
"We did everything right, we pitted on the correct laps but it is what it is.
"We had a problem with the pit stop and once we had pushed the car back and changed the wheel you are never going to get a result.
"We had a chance of getting a point in the end but the front left kept locking up and was producing such a bad vibration. We were worried about the front suspension so they called me in."
Button finished ninth in the first race of the season in Australia, picking up two points, but is pleased with the improvement of his car's performance since.
"Apart from the hiccup with the pit stop I think it was a great job this weekend from where we were in Melbourne," he added.
"We're still not quick enough but our race pace is good and I think in terms of strategy and what we did and the start I got everything was working really well."
Last season a catalogue of errors by the mechanics prevented both Button and Lewis Hamilton mounting a serious title challenge.
Hamilton started the Malaysian Grand Prix on pole, but delays during two of his stops dropped him down the field and he finished third.
In Bahrain, wheel nut problems at two separate stops saw the 2008 world champion finish eighth after starting second.
Then, in Spain, Hamilton ran out of fuel in qualifying after an operational error and was demoted from pole to the back of the grid.