Toto Wolff admits that Mercedes faced another "tough lesson" in their challenging 2022 season at the Singapore Grand Prix.
The team had showed good pace during the early stages of the weekend, with Lewis Hamilton topping the timesheets in Friday's opening practice session before securing P3 on the grid in Saturday's qualifying.
However, the race did not work out for the Silver Arrows. Hamilton became stuck behind Carlos Sainz after slipping back at the start of the race, before a crash on Lap 33 forced him to make a pit-stop.
There then followed a battle with Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel, and the Briton eventually finished the day in ninth.
George Russell, meanwhile, started the race from the pit lane after taking on new power unit elements in his W13, and was able to work his way steadily through the field before an incident with Mick Schumacher left him to end the event outside of the points.
Wolff reflects on a difficult day for Mercedes
Wolff was left frustrated that Mercedes were unable to utilise the pace that the car had displayed during the weekend.
"This season has given us several tough lessons – and today was another one," Wolff explained after the race.
"We started from opposite ends of the grid with our two cars, but we couldn't capitalise on the car's race pace with either of them, when it came to an end result.
"Lewis was fighting for the podium for much of the race – but also battling a car balance that was on a knife edge today, in difficult conditions and on the bumpy surface.
"After he locked up and damaged the wing, the stop to change tyres and the nose cost him position – then he lost out even more when cars ahead pitted under Safety Car and jumped ahead.
"That left him stuck in a train of cars on very similar aged tyres, and he couldn't make up any ground.
"For George, we rolled the dice on dry tyres when he was running out of the points – in hindsight, it was clearly too early, but he had nothing to lose, so we were prepared to take the gamble.
"Even so, as the race unfolded, he was still on course to make it back to the points until the collision with Mick, which put him last on the road."
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Battle with Ferrari now "significantly more difficult"
Mercedes had hoped to remain in the fight for P2 in the Constructors' Championship, having closed in on Ferrari in recent races.
However, with the Silver Arrows only scoring two points in Singapore – while the Scuderia took home 33 points thanks to Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz finishing in second and third respectively – Wolff acknowledges that the challenge is now even greater.
"The biggest frustration today is that we couldn't build on the signs of competitive performance we saw in FP2 and in qualifying," the team boss said.
"Our championship fight for P2 has got significantly more difficult with this result, but the only thing to do is to collect ourselves and throw our energy into the next race in Suzuka to rebuild momentum."
Mercedes currently hold 373 points in P3 of the Constructors' standings, while Ferrari are now 66 points ahead in second.
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