Sergio Perez may have finished his McLaren debut empty-handed, but he says the day "will always be very special".
Having swapped Sauber for McLaren during the off-season, Sunday's Australian Grand Prix marked the Mexican's first race for his new Woking outfit.
The team, though, didn't have the best of days with Perez qualifying P15 in the morning and then falling just short of a points later in the afternoon as he had to settle for 11th place.
The 23-year-old admits it was a difficult day at the office as the MP4-28 just didn't have enough pace throughout the day.
"That was a very, very tough race. I got a good start, which is always a bonus, but, after that, even though the team did a great job with the strategy, we just didn't have enough pace to make significant further progress," he said.
"Having said that, I nearly managed to score a point, but in the end I couldn't quite get up to 10th place at the end. To finish 11th is never really satisfying, but I think Jenson and I both drove pretty good races today. In fact I want to say 'well done' to Jenson, who maximised the performance of his car really well to finish ninth."
McLaren have only a week to try and turn around their fortunes as the Malaysian Grand Prix is only a few days away, but Perez is confident they will improve.
"Our engineers are aware that our car isn't yet as quick as it needs to be, but I know I'm now part of the best team in Formula 1 so I'm certain they'll improve it fast," he added.
"Going back to this afternoon's race, I don't think the Albert Park circuit suited our car very well - it accentuated its problems in fact - so I'm hoping we'll be able to put up a better showing in Sepang next weekend.
"Last but not least, today will always be a very special day for me, because it was the day I made my McLaren debut, which is something that every driver always dreams of. As I say, it would have been even better if I could have scored points, but that'll come soon."
Team principal Martin Whitmash was impressed with Perez's start and feels he did the best he could with the equipment at his disposal.
"Checo made a storming start from 15th place on the grid, surviving a very busy first few corners with an impressive mixture of forcefulness and diligence, and only very narrowly missed out on scoring a point on his McLaren debut," he said.
"Believe me, very few 11th-place finishes have been harder earned or better deserved than Checo's was today."
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