Lewis Hamilton is certain he would have given Nico Rosberg a hard fight for Chinese Grand Prix victory had he been able to take up his front row starting position at Shanghai.
The McLaren driver was second fastest in qualifying, but started seventh due to a 10-place grid penalty for a gearbox change. That meant Hamilton spent most of his race in traffic on the way to third place.
"I am sure we'd have given Nico a run for his money but the traffic we had and the amount of pit stops was incredible," said Hamilton. "But I'm still happy and we need to keep pushing to get some better results in the future."
He acknowledged that Mercedes was now a very strong contender after Rosberg's ultimately dominant win in China, but believes the victor's margin of superiority was accentuated by his potential rivals being caught in the pack.
"I think the Mercedes has good pace but it is much, much easier when you have clean air and are at the front when everyone else is being held up," said Hamilton. "[Rosberg] was just saying to me it was quite an easy race, so I know that."
The Shanghai result has put Hamilton into the world championship lead by two points over his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, even though the younger Briton has yet to win a race this year.
"It's definitely a positive to add the consistency which I want and I think if we keep on working like we have then the wins will come," said Hamilton. "We have to keep on moving forward and obviously Mercedes has taken a step forward and the other guys are just as quick as us, the Red Bulls are just about there and the Ferrari was quick at one stage and also the Saubers. So it is providing some great racing for the fans and I hope they are enjoying it as much as we are."