McLaren thinks it let the chance of a first podium finish of 2013 slip through its fingers at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
The Woking-based team's campaign was the first since 1980 where it had failed to finish in the top three.
But judging by the pace that Jenson Button and Sergio Perez showed at Interlagos on Sunday as they finished fourth and sixth, team principal Martin Whitmarsh thinks things could have been different if the pair had started higher than 14th and 19th.
"We are happy with the job the two guys did, and it was a race where on a few occasions it got the adrenaline going," he said.
"We were racing again and it is exciting. You remember why you flog yourself around the world to do it.
"If on race morning you had said fourth and sixth then I would have snatched your hand off, but in motor racing you always want more.
"If we hadn't started so far back, could we have put some pressure on and been closer to Fernando [Alonso, who finished third]? It could have been a podium."
Despite missing out on the podium, Whitmarsh was pleased with how the team bounced back from its Q2 exit.
"If you stand back from it, we are not here to be fourth, and we are not doing handstands," he said.
"But given where we were after qualifying, and what the guys did, they both raced well.
"We got the strategy right, and the team and the drivers executed it really well.
"We ran a competitive downforce level and that meant we had good straight-line speed."