BAR's Jenson Button admitted he was caught out by Ferrari's strong finish at the Italian Grand Prix which saw him slide from first to third place.
The Briton led the race for 24 of the 53 laps but could not hold off Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher.
"I actually thought we had a chance to win," said Button. "But I didn't know that Ferrari were going to be so strong at the end.
"The pace of these two guys was just untouchable, we were nowhere near."
The 24-year-old finished one place ahead of team-mate Takuma Sato in third - a solid team performance that was good enough to lift BAR behind Ferrari in the constructors' standings.
The Honda-powered team now have 94 points, three points ahead of rivals Renault who failed to grab any points in Italy.
"It was a fantastic race for us as a team," Button added.
"To just have the Ferraris in our sights at the end was pretty special for us."
Fellow Briton David Coulthard was also satisfied to finish with the leaders in sight after carving out sixth place.
The Scot, who has yet to secure a drive for next season, started the race from McLaren's pit lane after a last-gasp decision to change his tyres.
"I thought we would be OK on the intermediate tyres but we had to change our minds," explained Coulthard.
"I think it was the best thing to do although we perhaps could have finished higher if we had gone for the slicks from the start."
It was a day of mixed fortunes for McLaren as Kimi Raikkonen had to retire after lap 14 when smoke began billowing out of his car.
The Finn was unable to build on his victory at the Belgian Grand Prix.
"We're very disappointed because we knew we had
pace," said team boss Ron Dennis.
"Kimi had a water leak after an impact at the first chicane with all the
pushing around - it was a slow death.
"We're a highly motivated grand prix team and highly focused on winning - and
I think we can win at least one more race this season."