Jenson Button said his run to second in the Malaysian Grand Prix was both confusing and intriguing as he managed his tires impressively to come through to the runner-up spot.
The McLaren driver became more competitive throughout the race and then made a set of hard tires last 19 laps through the final stint to take second behind Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull.
"It was a really confusing race in a way, understanding or trying to understand the pit stops and whether it is worth looking after the tires or not, so pretty tricky," said Button.
He said the McLaren was at its best when on the hard tire late on.
"In the last stint putting the prime tire on, the car came alive, I had so much more grip," said Button. "I had a feeling the tire would not go the same way as the prime tire."
He admitted that he had hoped he might get a shot at challenging Vettel for the lead.
"I had the team telling me to back it off and look after the tires," Button said. "In the racer's mind you want to push and catch the leader even though you know it is not on, but it's great to get second and 18 points."
Button is now optimistic about McLaren's chances of challenging Red Bull in China next weekend.
"We have made some good progress," he said. "I'm looking forward to China – we can be excited and hopefully we can challenge these guys."