Valtteri Bottas believes he was on the right strategy in Japan to chase down Daniel Ricciardo, there just weren’t “enough laps” left.
Bottas started Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix from sixth place on the grid as a result of his gearbox penalty.
As such Mercedes opted to start him on the soft tyres meaning he could run a longer first stint.
On the supersoft late in the race, he chased down Ricciardo in the battle for the final podium position but fell short by less than a second.
“I think the strategy choice was good, gave us opportunities at the end of the race,” said the Finn.
“It’s sad that it didn’t work out as expected.
“We could not get through the Red Bull, not enough laps left.”
Sunday’s result saw Bottas close up on Vettel in the race for second in the championship.
He trails the Ferrari driver by 13 points with 100 still in play.
“I think that is definitely a good target,” he said.
“It’s not like fighting for the championship win but I’ll do everything I can to get second.”
Asked whether this year’s campaign had taught him vital lessons to put towards a possible title bid in 2018, he replied: “I’ve definitely learned a lot, and something from this weekend.
“I’m just focused on the last few races, make the most of them, and see where we end up this year.”