Jenson Button said he simply did not have the pace to match his McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton's charge to victory in the Chinese Grand Prix.
Button had led the opening stint after a great start from the front row, but he was passed by Hamilton in the middle of the race, could not catch Sebastian Vettel, and lost third to Mark Webber with just over a lap to go.
"Massive congratulations to Lewis – he drove a great race," said Button. "It was one of those races where there was a lot of overtaking and action involved, so it was good fun to be part of, but I wasn't quick enough.
"I really struggled to look after the rear tires for some reason. Fourth place was as good as I could get out of the car.
"It's enjoyable, but also you're a sitting duck when people have got newer tires – you can't do anything. For example, when Webber passed me, he was so much faster. You really can't do anything. You try and fight back, but you don't have the grip, the braking power or the traction, so it's very tricky. A tough afternoon for me, for some reason I just didn't have the pace."
He said the race showed that basic car speed was not as important as strategy under Formula 1's current rules and tire package.
"Getting strategy right is very important, as you can see by Webber finishing up behind his teammate. Sebastian started on pole, Webber was 18th. It really is amazing," said Button.
The Briton also lost time at his first stop when he accidentally pulled into the Red Bull pit rather than McLaren's. Button apologized to his crew for the error.
"I made it difficult for them," he said. "I was actually looking down when I came into the pits and went into the wrong pit spot."
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh admitted that Button's pit error had been less than ideal, but was pleased with how the McLaren crew responded.
"The first stop, we called him in and he didn't come in on that lap. So he was one lap later, and that put us out of sync," Whitmarsh said. "Then he did come in and obviously he liked the look of the Red Bull tires and he parked himself there. Unfortunately ,that process lost us a position to Vettel, so fairly disastrous, so it could have been very easy for the team to go from 1-2 to fifth or whatever, but both the guys and the team did a good job to stay calm and it came good in the end."