Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff has admitted that he doubts Lewis Hamilton could have won the Mexico City Grand Prix, even if the reigning World Champion had led at Turn 1.
Starting from second place, Hamilton emerged from Turn 1 in the same position despite clearing pole-sitter Valtteri Bottas. That was after Red Bull's Max Verstappen went around the outside of both Mercedes drivers in the braking zone, with the Dutchman untouchable for the remainder of the race.
Verstappen came home more than 15 seconds clear of Hamilton at the chequered flag, and Wolff reflected that wasn't a whole lot Mercedes could have done differently.
"You have to congratulate Red Bull, because the pace was just on another level," Wolff told Sky Sports F1.
"I don't think we could have won the race, even if we would have stayed ahead in the first corner, because they could have driven circles around us around the pit-stops. So, at the end, I think for Lewis' championship, it was damage limitation.
"As for the Constructors', Valtteri spinning out at Turn 1 was very painful."
What changed from Saturday's qualifying?
With Mercedes having taken a surprise front row in Saturday's qualifying session, against the expectation of Red Bull's pace, Wolff said that Sunday's race played out the way the team had suspected when they looked at the Friday long runs.
"I don't know what they did wrong yesterday in qualifying, and what went towards us, but that is the pace we've seen on Friday," Wolff explained.
"[It was] worse than we had hoped, but you have to take it on the chin."
With next weekend's race at Interlagos in Brazil also taking place at high altitude, which seems to favour Red Bull, Wolff added that Mercedes will do all they can to bring the fight to their championship rivals.
"Well, I hope we can break the pattern, because it was a Red Bull track [in the past]," he said.
"But we're going to give it all we have and try to fight back, because there is then another three coming."