Nico Rosberg bemoaned the penalty that cost him a podium finish at the German Grand Prix, after falling 19 points behind Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton in the title race.
Having lost top spot in the standings for the first time last week in Hungary, Rosberg looked to have responded in style, qualifying on pole, but a woeful start left him in fourth place before turn one on the first lap.
Hamilton comfortably rounded out his fourth win in a row ahead of Red Bull pair Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, who tangled with Rosberg to earn the German a five-second penalty and drop him from second to fourth.
"It was a really tough one today," Rosberg told Sky F1. "It just completely went wrong at the start with a lot of wheel spin I didn't expect that at all. It just caught me by surprise.
"None of it was good."
Rosberg insisted he had steered at full lock after diving down the inside of Verstappen, and again pressed his case post-race.
"I thought it was good battle," he added. "I was very surprised that I got penalised, I didn't expect that at all.
"It's just one more thing. When your day goes completely wrong, these things come together. I don't think it made a difference in the end, I couldn't challenge the Red Bulls after that penalty.
"Without the penalty I was in front, I was running second so it's the penalty that cost me definitely but yesterday they were running good pace.
"We always are keeping an eye on them and they've been strong for sure."
He continued: "Nineteen points is not tough. Tough is losing the race in the way I did today, it's going to take some time to digest but my family will help with that."
Though Rosberg expressed surprise at his penalty, Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda backed the decision.
Lauda said: "Honestly I think it's okay. You can interpret it that way that he went too wide, it was a 50-50 decision that went against him."