George Russell rued his "brutal" luck but insisted Williams "should be proud" after retiring from eighth position at the Styrian Grand Prix.
After starting 10th, courtesy of a grid penalty for Yuki Tsunoda, Russell's cause to finally end his points drought with Williams was further aided when AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc were involved in a first-lap collision.
With Gasly retiring with a broken suspension and Leclerc forced to take on a fresh set of tyres due to a puncture, Russell was promoted to eighth, a position he held onto until the first round of stops.
But ahead of that stop, Russell was told the strategy was switching to "plan B due to reliability reasons", with the car held as pneumatic pressure was adjusted.
This was repeated twice before the team finally retired the car.
"Gutted for the team, to be honest, they have worked so hard over the past three years chasing these points," said Russell.
"We never really know when they are coming. We know we have to have a perfect weekend and we were in such a great position.
"P8 on the medium tyre, we would have been able to pounce at the end and I think P7 was probably possible, ahead of [Fernando] Alonso.
"This four or six points is massive. It is probably the difference between P8 and P10 in the championship. We go again next week."
Asked if he was surprised by the pace of his FW43B, Russell added: "I wasn't surprised to be honest because I know we have done some really great work recently to improve the car.
"I knew the pace on Friday was strong and I was obviously on the mediums compared to the guys ahead of us.
"I was driving my heart out, driving as fast as I could to keep behind the Ferrari, the AlphaTauri - we are not normally in this position. We should be proud of the job we did. Racing is just brutal."
Williams opportunities "don't come every day"
Russell will be given an instant chance of redemption with the second race at the Red Bull Ring next weekend.
On his chances, he explained: "Of course, we have a different compound of tyres next week which will play a big part into it all.
"We did things perfectly until that point and repeating that and relying on others to not do things perfectly is not easy.
"That is the thing for us, we know that these opportunities don't come every day and we have to do everything great and others have to make mistakes for us to capitalise.
"Today was that day but it is racing. It is not meant to be easy."