Fernando Alonso labelled the Australian Grand Prix as "probably best race of my life" before he was forced to retire from the F1 season-opener with a suspension failure late on.
The McLaren driver had qualified 13th but started the race in 12th thanks to a five-place grid penalty for Daniel Ricciardo.
Alonso made up one place at the start of the race and moved into the points on lap 14 when Romain Grosjean retired.
He then maintained 10th place, holding off the Force India of Esteban Ocon for a large period, until his suspension failed seven laps from the end.
Alonso admitted running in the points with such an "uncompetitive car" had come as a surprise to him.
"It was probably the best race of my life until that moment," said Alonso.
"[There are] few times I've had such a 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."
The Spanish driver said however that similar performances at upcoming races were unlikely given a lack of power McLaren's Honda engine, which he said was making him over 30km/h slower on the straight than his rivals.
"As I said, there'll be few times with a weekend like this: 13th in qualifying and running in the points I think it's something that's going to be basically impossible in the next races," he said.
"This track is difficult, very narrow, very bumpy, where you need experience.
"On normal tracks our position will be a bit lower so we we need to improve immediately because otherwise we are going to have very frustrating races."