Jenson Button reckoned McLaren was too "nervous" in its strategy during the Belgian Grand Prix.
In its strongest race performance of a so-far troubled 2013 Formula 1 season, McLaren qualified and finished sixth with Button, but appeared to have a shot at a podium finish.
Button initially planned a one-stop strategy and moved up the order as the leaders pitted. But then McLaren vacillated between tactical options and Button ended up out of sync with his competitors and back in sixth at the flag.
"I think we got a little bit nervous when everyone pitted and we lost a bit of time, and then we were being overtaken by the cars that had already pitted," he said. "I think we pitted too early on the first stint.
"We went to a two-stop and then tried to go back to a one, but I said 'no way are we going to be able to do 12 more laps on this set of tires guys' so we pitted. It's better to be pitting than being overtaken.
"It was nice to be racing with those guys. I think our pace was there with them, I'm just not sure we got it right with strategy. We were a bit in the middle."
Despite the disappointing final result, Button was encouraged to finish with 13 seconds of third-placed Lewis Hamilton and only 6.9sec behind Mark Webber's Red Bull.
"It's a little bit off what we wanted, but we weren't that far off third," he said. "We were just 13 seconds behind third and just behind a Red Bull."
But he admitted that the package McLaren brought to Spa had not lived up to expectations.
"It's definitely a step forward but there are still some areas where we thought we'd be better here and we weren't and we've got to work out why," Button said.