Sebastian Vettel conceded he didn't have the pace to challenge Daniel Ricciardo despite the Red Bull driver struggling with engine issues during the Monaco GP.
The German made the slightly better start off the front row compared to his former teammate but any thoughts of a move into Sainte Devote were quickly ended by a small defensive move by the Australian.
Following on in second, it appeared the loss of ERS power suffered by Ricciardo would open the door for Vettel with some 20kph advantage on the main straight, however, with the RB14 still superior in the corners it meant the gap stayed above a second pretty consistently.
"I think we had the pace, but it was a tricky race," said the four-time world champion. "Daniel had the answers at all time.
"First stint I could follow him fairly easy, then he started to push just when Lewis started to pit. Then he was a bit stronger there and we couldn't follow. I was going through the tyres fairly quick.
"The next stint was a bit the same," he added. "I think he had a problem halfway through with his MGU-K, I think toward the end that picked up again."
If Ricciardo's weakness was on the straights, then Vettel and Lewis Hamilton behind in third both faltered with the tyres as both the Hypersoft and Ultrasoft suffered substantial degradation and graining compared to the Red Bull which still looked pretty new even at the end.
"Obviously it made it difficult in the low-speed corners where you don't need power," Vettel explained. "You need grip to stay with him and then benefit from the more power that we had clearly on the straights. But we couldn't.
"You could see also at the end of the first stint when Lewis pitted and then triggered the pit stops, Daniel was a lot quicker toward the end. Initially we could go his pace but then we were falling off."
A late Virtual Safety Car caused by Charles Leclerc smashing into the back of Brendon Hartley did look like possibly offering a final chance at snatching the win, instead the 30-year-old slipped back ending the race seven seconds behind Ricciardo.
"I don't know what happened there," he admitted. "I don't know why I lost so much time initially.
"I had poor warm-ups to it was tricky and the tyres weren't in a great shape," he recalled. "I didn't want to risk anything because it's easy to have a lock up. I had one, so that was a bit of a warning.
"I just didn't have much confidence in the tyres so I lost quite a lot. Otherwise it would have been nice to keep the pressure up to the end."
Monza plans big renovations for centenar
Ferrari much more of a unit compared to
Bottas: Worrying about Mercedes exit rum
Russell sets midfield goal for Williams
Brawn reveals agreement to help new engi
Ferrari confirm February launch date for
Perez talks up Stroll potential, plays d
18 Thoughts from F1 2018: Are Williams o
Ricciardo: Taking Renault 'to the next l
Norris wants to 'beat Sainz at every rac
Vettel has one problem with Kubica's F1
Pirelli has asked teams to simulate mand
McLaren 'very happy' with Renault, expec
Schumacher chooses Ferrari Academy over
Stroll matched Ocon in the simulator and
Wolff identifies race where he 'felt the
Sainz: McLaren aiming to lead the midfie
Marchionne death was a 'big loss' to Fer
Stewart hails Verstappen and arrival of
Kubica suggests Williams ignored initial
Bottas to contest Arctic Lapland Rally i
Vettel unsure if he'll enjoy same Ferrar
Alonso was 'never on the right team at t
Verstappen: F1 success 'a lot easier' fo
Mercedes had a pace advantage over Ferra
Ecclestone reveals Silverstone bid and f
Bianchi death & personal reasons re-shap
Hamilton had to be reigned in during sup
Norris believes McLaren more focused on
Grosjean: I have same desire to win as A
Verstappen only wanted to make Renault '
Kubica talks up F1 return: 'I know what
Wolff: Leclerc save at Spa vindicates Ha
Mexico GP future plunged into doubt by n
Wolff again raises prospect of future Sc
Sainz feels no pressure replacing Alonso
Hamilton just a 'chink in a chain' at Me
Raikkonen surprised by similarities betw
Renault reveal huge power deficit to eng
Verstappen still peeved by 'unfair' Monz
Hakkinen draws comparison to his early c
Mercedes' 2019 engine not yet hitting pr
Hulkenberg not so interested in comparis
Ecclestone warns against rise of street
Hartley hints Toro Rosso exit was politi
FIA concludes Halo did prevent Alonso's
Ricciardo: Process of making 2019 decisi
Brown: McLaren's 2018 a result of years
Giovinazzi expecting 'tough' start along
Pirelli: Tyres not only to blame for con
Vettel gets Di Montezemolo support: Schu
Ericsson tips - and hopes - Leclerc to '
Magnussen has 'almost forgot' what wins
Red Bull worried of help Ricciardo can g
Ericsson claims F1 is 'artificial' in co
Gasly will give Verstappen the 'hardest
Renault: 2019 potential depends on Red B
Russell wants to work with Kubica to pus
Racing Point will not be Force India's n
Hamilton expecting another title fight w
Ferrari admit possible benefits but want
Verstappen & Leclerc will be F1's new Ha
Schumacher's 2006 retirement left Ferrar
Sirotkin: 2019 Williams seat 'looked qui
Liberty 'trying' for Silverstone deal bu
Vettel would have been F1 champion with
Verstappen hints at 'Plan B' if Red Bull
Ricciardo denies money the cause for fai
Alonso leaving F1 akin to 'Real Madrid w
Gasly & Verstappen a 'good partnership'
Bottas rejects idea of seeking Rosberg a
Leclerc can be the 'incentive' Vettel ne
Todt suggests Verstappen becomes a stewa
Hamilton unscathed from minor crash duri
Perez admits Ocon relationship 'was neve
Red Bull's 2018 season could have been "
Alonso bemoans loss of engine noise in F
Ocon predicts busier 2019 as Mercedes re
Albon: Red Bull program was my only real
Bottas to approach 2019 'like I have not
Force India's new name & 2019 driver num
Force India officially confirm Lance Str
Mick Schumacher amazed by performance of
Norris keen to have 'valuable' Alonso ad
Schumacher 'as we all remember him' and
Ferrari claim the 'real Vettel' was back
Hamilton 'more relieved' after Mercedes
Verstappen admits bold Ocon moves in Abu
Force India rue costly races after faili
Bottas the 'only slight flaw' for Merced
Ricciardo 'confused' by Red Bull pace is
Williams: 'No one in the team' has doubt
Bottas & Vettel sense little difference
Brawn: 'Unacceptable' podium record for
Haas won't appeal decision of Abu Dhabi
Kvyat after Toro Rosso test return: It's
Leclerc savours 'special' first day as a
Sainz claims McLaren move a 'dream come
Rosberg: Ferrari lacked 'cohesion' after
Alonso adds Daytona 24 return to 2019 ra