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.”
Ericsson says Leclerc not only responsib
Alonso: F1 no longer the show that made
Mercedes warn Liberty of tough fight ove
Stroll: I've 'improved well as a driver'
Ricciardo: Abu Dhabi podium would be 'fi
Hamilton expects to raise game against V
Prost: Reaching F1 without financial sup
Hamilton sees greater Mercedes satisfact
Perez: Alonso's plight with McLaren 'sho
Toro Rosso target Albon named on Formula
F1 weekends could be shortened & 'unattr
Mercedes: Baku loss cost Bottas champion
Raikkonen draws Lotus comparison ahead o
F3 World Cup - Motopark’s Dan Ticktum cl
Hamilton forced to clarify 'poor' India
Ferrari expecting 2018 loss to motivate
Ricciardo expecting his bad luck 'to dis
Hamilton could face Abu Dhabi engine pen
Sainz rejects idea Verstappen blocked 20
Haas concede defeat to Renault in race f
Honda hopes to 'accelerate' engine gains
Hamilton praises Formula E project but r
Sauber team up with Charouz to launch yo
Brawn: Simulations producing 'tangible'
Alonso hints at more 2019 announcements
Hamilton would add races in historic F1
Hamilton hoping for more battles with Ve
F1 CEO Carey does see path for new manuf
Red Bull don't 'condone violence' but 'd
Kubica & Ocon set to confirm Williams ro
Hartley frustrated by Gasly ignoring tea
FIA rule out changes to weighbridge rule
Bottas: Regularity of defending from riv
Verstappen 'still not able to manage his
Whiting: Hamilton/Sirotkin incident 'an
Whiting: Ocon 'wrong' to fight Verstappe
Raikkonen believes P3 the best he could
Ricciardo: 'Every time we start out of p
McLaren 'confident' Indy 500 plans won't
Red Bull call for Ocon race ban as Verst
Mercedes reveal Hamilton had 'failure im
Vettel gives Brazil race 'one out of ten
Hamilton tells Verstappen: 'You had more
Hamilton 'proud' of Mercedes as double c
Ocon claims Verstappen 'wanted to punch
Brazil GP: Hamilton inherits victory as
Ricciardo jokes 0.002s loss to Max 'more
Alonso & McLaren confirm Indy 500 return
Hamilton blasts 'disrespectful' Sirotkin
Vettel slams FIA weighbridge process aft
Brazil GP: Hamilton beats Vettel to pole
Brazil GP: Vettel sets new lap record in
Ferrari's Clear to have key Leclerc role
Hamilton says 25-race calendar would dri
'Realistic' Verstappen insists Red Bull
Red Bull reveal a Mexico marshal caused
Vettel expects Ferrari progress in Brazi
Williams offer Kubica 2019 seat but Ferr
Red Bull see race potential even if Braz
Brazil GP: Bottas pips Hamilton by 0.003
Brazil GP: Verstappen leads Vettel & Ham
Tyres and two-tier F1 to dominate driver
Verstappen: Mexico anger post-qualifying
Hamilton doubts Bottas would want F1 win
Alonso: McLaren optimistic 2019 car will
Ocon rejecting non-F1 offers to 'stay cl
Massa: Vettel 'more guilty' for 2018 tit
Hamilton to Leclerc & Gasly: 'No substit
Red Bull: 2019 front wings a costly 'sho
Sainz claims Schumacher name alone won't
Bottas: Hamilton's adaptability is his b
Force India: Signs point to Stroll being
Liberty want to 'preserve' classic F1 ra
Williams still getting over 'enormous sh
Hamilton doubts he would have recovered
Brazil step up security ahead of F1 race
Vietnam confirmed for 2020 F1 calendar
Studious Schumacher 'not as crazy' as Ve
Arrivabene: Ferrari still lack winning '
Ferrari CEO admits F1 budget cap 'makes
Mercedes target tyre woes and Constructo
Force India see catching F1's big three
Sainz has no issue with Renault over sig
Ferrari slam 'fake' Binotto rumours aime
Smedley confirms Williams departure afte
Sauber: Don't compare Leclerc to Hamilto
Two prospective manufacturers rule out F
Magnussen claims current cars leave F1 d
Red Bull: Immediate Gasly comparisons to
Vettel: 2018 Ferrari 'strong' but never
Webber fears Renault a threat to Ricciar
Hamilton: Bottas relationship as teammat
Magnussen: Haas should be 'proud' to be
Tombazis: FIA had to 'intervene' with 20
Zandvoort reportedly offered 2020 Dutch
Vettel wants himself & Leclerc to 'work
Mercedes: 'This is the best Lewis Hamilt
Ricciardo confirms participation in fina
Haas fail in bid to overturn Grosjean's
F1 bosses warn of 'step backwards' with