George Russell admits that he was "fortunate" after his strategy gamble paid off when a safety car period gave him a cheap pitstop in the Formula 1 Miami GP.
He also expressed his frustration at having to hand a place back to Lewis Hamilton after going off track during their late battle, although he soon regained it and finished ahead of his teammate.
However, the episode cost him any chance of gaining ground on the cars ahead.
Russell had started on the hard tyres with the intention of running long. As those who started on the mediums began to pit, he worked his way up to fifth.
On lap 36 he was heard suggesting to the team "why don't we keep going?" in the hope that a safety car came out.
Just four laps later, Lando Norris collided with Pierre Gasly, triggering what was initially a virtual safety car, allowing Russell to dive into the pits.
He emerged having lost just two places to Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton, both of whom he eventually re-passed to claim fifth at the flag.
"I think we were fortunate," he said when asked by Motorsport.com about his successful gamble.
"You sound like a bit of a genius when things like that happen, but that's the case when you're on an offset strategy.
"We had P7 covered, there was no point to pit, you may as well stay out there and hope for something like that to happen, and we got a bit lucky today.
"But we still didn't show the pace that we showed on Friday, we showed much more pace than we showed yesterday, but still a long way from where we were on Friday and we need to understand why that is."
Russell said he enjoyed his battle with Hamilton after the restart following the safety car period, when he benefited from fresher tyres.
However, after his initial pass involved a trip beyond the white line, he was told to give the place back.
Hamilton duly passed him, but he in turn allowed Russell back through a few corners later.
"Yeah, it was nice," said Russell of their fight. "Obviously got to leave a bit more room when you're battling with your teammate than you would do ordinarily, and again that's another corner where you can't really judge where the edge of the track is because it's just a white line.
"Then when they told me we had to swap positions back, it was a little bit frustrating, because I was catching the guys ahead at one point, but fortunately we all came home in one piece.
"It was an FIA thing, I think I went off track when I passed him. Bit of an odd corner, it's like a car park there it's so wide, then you've got the white line, which as you're driving you can't see."
Russell admitted that he struggled for pace on the hard tyres at the start of the race.
"Those opening laps were really tough, I got completely swallowed up on lap 1 and I just knew I needed to stay out of trouble.
"And then it was really difficult to race around this track, I don't know what on earth they've done with the tarmac but offline it's awful, I almost crashed coming into the pitlane."