Valtteri Bottas has conceded Mercedes "knew we were pushing it to the limit" before his left-front tyre failed and forced his retirement from the Qatar Grand Prix.
The Finn had gone through a difficult opening to the race at the Losail International Circuit and fell to 11th before a resurgence saw him climb to third and at an advantage to Red Bull's Sergio Perez after stretching his opening stint further.
But on lap 33 heading into turn seven, Bottas' medium tyre let go on his front-left, with the damage sustained eventually forcing his retirement.
The failure was the first of four during the race - McLaren's Lando Norris and Williams duo George Russell and Nicholas Latifi the others - with Pirelli suggesting a mixture of tyre wear and aggressive kerbing were the causes of the issues.
Addressing his start, Bottas said: "The revs were okay.
"One issue was getting temperature on the medium on the formation lap and then being on the dirty side.
"I don't know, just very low grip, including the start itself so was pretty tricky.
"It is always tricky when there is a bit of a DRS train but then as soon as it started to spread a bit more, I could start to make progress and actually the pace was pretty good and I could go pretty long in the first stint.
"Then all of a sudden, I had a puncture without any vibration and before any loss of grip so it was quite strange."
On the puncture, he admitted: "We knew we were pushing it to the limit but there was no vibration, still good grip so we felt comfortable.
"At least for me it was completely normal and that was the best opportunity for us to get to the podium.
"I think we would have stopped one or two laps later and could have been on the podium. Just unlucky I guess."