Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport team boss Toto Wolff says the Silver Arrows must concentrate on understanding the struggles experienced over the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend.
'We underperformed in Sepang'
While the team expected a tough fight with Ferrari and Red Bull, it was optimistic the Sepang International Circuit would better suit this year's car.
After a tough Friday, Lewis Hamilton took his 70th career pole position on Saturday, but couldn't translate his grid position into a race victory at the final Malaysian GP.
He fell behind Red Bull's Max Verstappen on lap four and couldn't fight back, having to settle for second place.
"We benefitted in the championship from the misfortune of Ferrari but we didn't have the pace to challenge either Ferrari or Red Bull," Toto admitted after the race. "This is a sport where you take no prisoners. We take the points and Ferrari would have done the same but somebody else's misfortune or underperformance doesn't cheer me up at all. We are looking at our own level of performance and how we can fix our issues.
"Full credit to Red Bull and Ferrari for their performances, I think we underperformed in Singapore and we have underperformed in Sepang. That is what we need to concentrate on. We have built up our advantage to Ferrari in the last two races because of them shunting out in Singapore and Sebastian's engine problems in qualifying, and Kimi's problems in the race.
"We would have lost many points to them if they had performed as they should have done. There are five more races to go and we can see how quickly it can swing. This is motor racing and what makes it exciting. It can go against anybody so we are very well aware that we need to understand our performances and carry the advantage to the end of the season."
'Nobody doubts Valtteri'
Valtteri Bottas had a storming start but struggled for pace, finishing a lonely fifth. Toto has full confidence the Finn will bounce back from his difficult run of races, though.
"I think he will overcome this tough period and is going to come out much stronger," he said. "We have seen very good performances from him this year and he had a dip in form in the last races, but nobody doubts Valtteri.
"I think we have a car that has a very narrow operating window and where the tyres generate optimum grip. That is the fundamental story of 2017 for us, and driving style plays a role too. Lewis was able to better adapt to the problem than Valtteri, but changing driving style is not something that comes easy. There are discrepancies between other team-mates, so he is not the only driver suffering from that issue."