Hockenheim, Germany - Mercedes boss Toto Wolff called the German Grand Prix an "Armageddon weekend" after Lewis Hamilton twice spun in the rain.
One of the best races of recent years was won by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen, with Hamilton promoted from 11th to ninth after both Alfa Romeos were bumped down the classification on Sunday night.
Hamilton only took part after he was cleared to race by FIA doctors on Sunday morning. The world champion had been suffering from a bug since arriving at Hockenheim.
After Mercedes finished with just two points following the 30-second penalties imposed on the Alfas of Kimi Raikkonen and Antonio Giovinazzi for torque irregularities, Wolff said: "It was a terrible day for us. It is motor racing and sometimes you’ve got to take a slap on the chin. These are the days that make us better.
"We’ll think about what went wrong. This is an Armageddon weekend for us."
Mercedes personnel were dressed in 1950s garb to celebrate their 125 years in motorsport, and 200th grand prix, a decision Wolff seemed to regret as frivolous after Valtteri Bottas’s race-ending crash compounded Hamilton’s disappointment.
"It shows that you cannot fool around with stuff. You should concentrate on the job," said Wolff. "We’re not superstitious but we believe in karma, and this is a day to learn. When you want to do particularly well, things can go wrong. Maybe you get distracted and do things differently."
Hamilton was moved from intermediate tyres to slicks too early and crashed while leading on lap 29. He later spun again, putting him last. Even Verstappen twirled 360 degrees en route to victory.
Of his illness, Hamilton said: "I have cancelled everything for the next few days and I’m going home to Monaco to sleep and get over this bug."
Hamilton’s voice was as fragile as a child’s as he tried to rationalise how the day had wrung the living daylights out of him, yet shown Formula One in all its captivating technicolour.
He was broken in the Mercedes motorhome, cursing himself, his team, the fates, the lot. "It was snakes and ladders, and I kept hitting the snakes," he lamented after Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the German Grand Prix.Daily Mail