Lewis Hamilton conceded that Mercedes simply were no match for Ferrari in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix on Saturday.
Normally it seems that Mercedes can step up their qualifying performance on demand to counter any threat from their rivals. But that certainly wasn't the case today.
Ferrari locked out the front row of the grid for Sunday's race. Hamilton could only manage fourth fastest in Q3, just behind his team mate Valtteri Bottas.
“I guess it ultimately proves everyone who said we had a party mode in the last race were wrong,” Hamilton said. "Ferrari have done a great job this weekend, they’ve got the pace.
"We've been trying to get ahead of the Ferraris, but it has been tough. They just had the pace all weekend.
“Ferrari are just quicker in general everywhere and been a bit better with their tyres. They always are in hot places like this.
“When you get to a hot circuit it’s really difficult to keep the temperatures low in the tyres and that’s something they’ve always been good at.
"I think when we come to a hotter circuit, often the gap closes a little bit because the Ferrari’s maybe have an upgrade," he suggested.
"Their engine mode is easily as good as ours. As you could see this weekend on the straights, they are just as quick - if not quicker."
Although he finished qualifying fourth fastest, a gearbox penalty means he will be starting from ninth on the grid. He admitted that this weekend was now going to be a case of damage limitation.
"It's not going to be the easiest tomorrow, that's for sure. But I'll give it everything I've got," he said.
"Obviously the goal was to get P1 today but the Ferraris were just too quick.
"Valtteri put in a really good time in at the end, [but] I wasn't able to capitalise on the new tyres at the end," he admitted. "It wasn't the greatest of laps from my side.
"Otherwise it is what is is and we'll just try and recover from where we are."
Hamilton does have one potential ace in the hole to play. He completed his fast lap in Q2 on soft compound tyres while everyone else ran on the shorter-life supersofts.
"I've got the softer tyres so I should be able to go longer," Hamilton mused. "It's going to be interesting to see. There's a couple of different strategies.
"I don't know what we are going to be able to achieve tomorrow, but I will give it everything I've got and hope that I can do something.
"Tomorrow is going to be one of the hardest races for us in some time," he added. The goal for tomorrow is damage limitation.
"I'm going to try and eke out every last bit of power and strength from this car as I can."