Mexico City - Lewis Hamilton said his Mercedes was no match for Max Verstappen's Red Bull after his dream of a record eighth Formula One championship slipped further from his grasp in Mexico City on Sunday.
The 36-year-old Briton had started on the front row of the grid, only for his hopes of victory to be dashed in the opening seconds as Verstappen seized the lead and then pulled away to win.
"Their car was far superior this weekend and there was nothing we really could do about it," Hamilton said after finishing second, the gap between him and his Dutch rival extended to 19 points.
The champion said he gave all he had, holding off Red Bull's Sergio Perez at the finish with the Mexican chasing a team one-two.
Giving everything was still not enough, however, on a day when team mate Valtteri Bottas started on pole position but was hit and spun on the opening lap, ending up out of the points.
"I naturally feel I need to be winning every race, because we need those extra points, not to lose those points, to try and regain, that was the goal going into the last race and the race before that and before that and here this weekend," said Hamilton.
"But ... they’re just too quick. So (we were) giving it absolutely everything we’ve got but unfortunately it’s not enough at the moment to compete with them."
Verstappen has now won nine races to Hamilton's five and the next, in Brazil, should also play to his car's strengths before three final races in the Middle East.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said it had been a question of damage limitation for Hamilton in the championship race, and hailed the Briton for driving "a brilliant race with the equipment he was given".
"You have to congratulate Red Bull because the pace was just on another level. I don't think we could have won the race even if we would have stayed ahead in the first corner," said the Austrian.
"As for the constructors' (battle), Valtteri spinning out at turn was just very painful.
"It's worse than we had hoped but you have to take it on the chin... overall it's a day to forget for us."
Mercedes, winners of the past seven drivers' and constructors' standings, are now just one point ahead of Red Bull.