Lewis Hamilton conceded Mercedes' decision to use a two-stop strategy ultimately cost him the chance at victory in the United States GP.
Looking for a sixth win in seven years at the Circuit of the Americas, the first setback came at the start as eventual race winner Kimi Raikkonen managed to get ahead into Turn 1 at the start.
Initially, the call to pit if the Ferrari didn't during an early Virtual Safety Car appeared to be the right one as he closed in on Kimi struggling for pace on his Ultrasoft tyres.
But the hard work would be undone by a stout defence by the Finn and then blisters would slow the Briton's pace before he stopped for the second time.
“I naturally thought we would have been able to do better, but this was the best we were able to do in the end,” Hamilton said initially.
“I think, ultimately, I came out and had the pit window, it was very very close. [Then] I made the stop and it was 12 seconds, it was way, way too far to catch up.
“I’m not sure how the strategy came out like that, and that’s always difficult because you only get a certain amount of life with a brand new tyre to make a difference, and once you make 12 seconds up, you have none left."
In a year when it has typically been Ferrari making the strategic errors, the 33-year-old acknowledged this time his side got it wrong.
“A little bit of a surprise, but you can’t always make it right," he claimed
“Once we had done the stop on Lap 11, I knew we would be doing two [stops]. We made it so hard for ourselves."
His eventual third-place finish would not be enough to secure a fifth world title as Sebastian Vettel passed Valtteri Bottas late on to finish fourth.
There was a brief moment when it looked on though, in the tense closing laps as Lewis battled with Max Verstappen and his Mercedes teammate held the Ferrari at bay.
It wasn't to be, however, although the champagne is only on ice as now Hamilton needs just a seventh-place finish in Mexico to become champion.
“Congratulations to Kimi – he did a great job today, no mistake,” he added.
“Verstappen did a great job as well – he was on a slightly better tyre than us at the end, so naturally [it was] a bit of a struggle but it was great that we got to do some racing at least.”
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