Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff has conceded Mercedes "never" had a chance of toppling Red Bull in the Mexico City Grand Prix.
Mercedes sprung a surprise in qualifying on Saturday by locking out the front row for the first time this season despite Red Bull entering the session clear favourites given the pace shown in practice.
After turn one of Sunday's race, however, the expected order was restored after Max Verstappen launched an audacious dive around the outside of both Mercedes drivers and Daniel Ricciardo clipped Bottas, sending the Finn into a spin.
“When we came here we didn’t expect to beat Red Bull and therefore the qualifying result came as a surprise," said Wolff.
"Probably they went backwards and we went forward, but the reflection of the pace differential we saw in the race, the win was never on for us and that is why taking P2 means winning P2.
“We leave here, the circuit that we probably regarded as one of the worst ones for us, for Brazil that hasn’t been much better in the past.
"But at least we believe we can have a solid car there, closer to Red Bull than we had here.”
"Damage limitation" for Hamilton - Wolff
Whilst Hamilton was able to fend off the late advances of Sergio Perez to hold onto the runner-up position, Bottas endured a torrid race in which he spent most of its 71-lap duration stuck behind Ricciardo's McLaren.
Not even Mercedes' attempt at the overcut worked for Bottas due to a poor stop as the left-front was slow to be removed.
In the closing stages, the Finn was pitted twice in order to steal the fastest lap point away from Verstappen before going on to finish a wretched 15th.
Providing a further assessment of the race, Wolff added: "It was damage limitation for Lewis and it was a really tough but great drive, to be honest, to hold on to second.
"Probably, the car was only good enough for P3 but he managed to hold on to second.
“And on Valtteri’s side, as good as it was on Saturday, it started to go wrong with turn one, then the rim got stuck on the axle and then from then on it was really taking that one point away from Max which was not a huge consolation.”
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