Mercedes technical director Mike Elliott has hailed George Russell for doing "all the right things" during his Miami Grand Prix comeback charge.
The British driver had looked promising for a pole challenge after topping second practice at the Miami International Autodrome, only to qualify a disappointing 12th.
Mercedes opted to start Russell on the alternate strategy, with the hard tyres taking him through until the safety car was deployed on lap 41.
Russell finished fifth to continue his streak as the only driver on the grid to have finished in the top five of each race this season.
Addressing Mercedes' choice to start on the hard tyres, Elliott explained: "I think you can tell by the fact we fitted the hard that we kept our options open. Our plan was always to be able to run an offset strategy to the cards around us.
"By an offset strategy, what I mean is if we have got a car you think has a pace advantage, you want to be running a different strategy to the cars around you. That way, if you get caught in a DRS train, you are always going to get to a portion of the race where you have some clean air, when the others pit and you are able to then run long.
"That is what we had in mind with George. Added to that, there is also the potential benefit of safety cars. If that safety car came out after the others had pitted, you end up with a clear advantage and that is the way it obviously played out."
Russell fifth "a fantastic achievement"
Russell had dropped back at the start as those with medium tyres used the grip advantage of their compound, but after expressing a desire to gamble on a safety car late in the stint, the collision between Lando Norris and Pierre Gasly granted the Silver Arrows' wishes.
On Russell himself, Elliott said: "George drive a fantastic race. Starting on the hard tyre when his competitors around him were on the medium, alright we lost a couple of places at the start but George kept his head.
"He did all of the right things, he let the tyres come towards him and as we started to get heat into the harder tyres and the medium tyres started to degrade, we saw the pace advantage that George had and he started to cut through the field and do a really really good job.
"To finish the race fifth from where he started, that is a fantastic achievement."