Lewis Hamilton conceded he has "no more jokers" available after Nico Rosberg extended his advantage in the Formula One drivers' championship with victory at the Chinese Grand Prix.
Rosberg, who has finished second to team-mate Hamilton in the world championship for each of the last two seasons, recorded his third straight win of 2016 and sixth consecutive triumph dating back to last campaign at the Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday.
Hamilton started from the back of grid having been unable to post a qualifying time due to a technical fault, and then suffered damage to his front wing in a collision with the Sauber of Felipe Nasr.
The defending world champion was able to finish in the points, claiming seventh with the help of a safety car after a puncture for Daniel Ricciardo, but now trails Rosberg by 36 points.
Rosberg's advantage is the biggest he has had over Hamilton since the German was 29 points clear after the Belgian Grand Prix in 2014.
"It doesn't feel any nicer than it did back then," Hamilton said. "If anything it probably feels worse. Perhaps now because it has just gone one negative after another but of course there is a long, long way to go. Lots can happen, it's just I have no more jokers available really.
"My start was good, I was dead last and had a good start finally. Trust it to happen when I'm dead last so that's something positive to take into the next race and hopefully utilise and use to my advantage from now on.
"Of course it's a trying time and for sure there are lots of different emotions and thoughts are going through my mind as you see the season starting the wrong way, you see the championship, which is your goal, moving further away from you as you are approaching it.
"But this is a part of motor racing and a part of the journey and through these experiences, not only myself but my mechanics, my engineers, it brings us closer, it makes us stronger."
Meanwhile, head of Mercedes-Benz motorsport Toto Wolff said: "Lewis has every reason to be upset about the result. He wouldn't be a three-time world champion if that didn't upset him, but I have no doubt he will make a quick recovery.
"The gap is substantial but it is very early days. He is mentally very strong so I have no doubt that it will be close at the end."