Marcus Ericsson feels a top 10 result would have been comfortably within his and Sauber’s reach in Japan, had he not started at the back due to crashing out of qualifying.
Ericsson displayed strong form through Friday practice, taking ninth overall, but drifted wide through the entry to Dunlop Curve on his second Q1 push lap and collided with the barriers.
It left him at the rear of the grid, and he opted to stop behind the early Safety Car period to take on Medium tyres, which he preserved through to the chequered flag.
Ericsson thus crossed the line in 12th position but reckoned more was possible had he not been consigned to the back of the field.
“It’s definitely frustrating because I think we should have qualified around P10, like Charles [Leclerc] did, because for sure the pace is there, it’s very frustrating what happened in quali,” he said.
“I think if I would have started a bit higher for sure the points were there. Frustrating, but I want to bring the positives as well and I’ll bring that within me.
“From starting 20th on a track like this, you know it’s going to be a difficult afternoon, the pace was very strong, we knew it would be strong on Friday where I think we were best of the rest on the long runs.
“I was surprised how easily I could overtake the Williams and the McLarens early in the race.
“We took a gamble under the Safety Car and took on Mediums, I knew the aim was going to be going to the end and it would be critical, but it’s one of my strengths, the tyre management, and I think I played that really well, took care of them in a really good way.
“I’m pretty pleased with that performance and if a few more cars, the top cars, had problems then we would have been in the points. It was a pretty good result I think.”
Sauber team-mate Leclerc retired due to a mechanical failure.