Head of motorsport Toto Wolff even called the Mercedes vehicle "a diva" and a "mystery" because of its temperamental and unpredictable nature.
But his team are not likely to follow Ferrari's example and use team orders to favour one driver in the world championship.
"The battle's not over, boys, We'll take these points". "This is the new reality at the moment".
But it was shrouded in controversy.
Mercedes struggled with its tyre temperatures all weekend long and was unable to match Ferrari's pace, with Wolff believing it to show where the advantage in F1 now lies.
In what turned out to be a hard weekend for Mercedes, Valtteri Bottas' fourth place finish was the best the reigning world champions could manage, as Hamilton recovered from 13th on the grid to cross the line seventh, following his early qualifying exit.
"Valtteri's doing a great job".
"But I think that doesn't deter the fact that we have a great vehicle".More news: Goldman Gives Lifeline to Venezuela's Socialist Dictator
"We have to work collectively as a team more than ever before to beat the Ferraris", Hamilton said. There might be some things along the way positioning wise which, at some stage, become valuable, but - who knows? - it might go the other way and I might need to give Valtteri the upper hand.
"Of course I can't afford another weekend like this", Hamilton said.
"They're going to be pushing everything to make sure Sebastian will get the maximum on all of his weekends".
The triple world champion is 25 points behind the German, who is himself chasing his fifth title and has been the dominant of the two drivers, winning three of the six races so far this season.
They chose to run him long and hope to gain from his speed once he got some clear air, as cars pulled in to make their pit stops. "It's the right result for the team and for the drivers' championship - but I don't think it was orchestrated". "These tyres are like driving on ice when you get a Safety Car" Carlos Sainz was a well-judged sixth for Toro Rosso ahead of Hamilton, who had started 13th, and Frenchman Romain Grosjean of Haas.
Hamilton know he can not afford another low scoring weekend given Vettel's pace and consistency. But as I said we will regroup.
"It is hard just to get to six points and be within firing range".
"The lead driver normally gets priority, and if I had the choice to go first (into the pits), that is normally what you want to do".