Lewis Hamilton said he was unable to compete for a podium finish at the Russian Grand Prix "from the get-go" after suffering from overheating in the Mercedes.
Team-mate Valtteri Bottas stormed to his maiden race win in F1, having jumped the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen on lap one.
Hamilton was unable to bring the fight to the red cars, however, and finished 36 seconds adrift of his colleague in fourth.
The three-time champion was briefly pushing on the rear of third-place Raikkonen, but was ordered to back off by his team as the car's temperatures rocketed, leaving Hamilton frustrated.
"I've not had that for... I don't remember the last time I had that," he told reporters. "It just meant I was out of the race already from the get-go.
"I wasn't able to stay in the battle. I think I had the pace to fight with Kimi but the car was just overheating all the time.
"For sure we'll go back to the drawing board and try to figure it out. I think ultimately if I'd had better pace then I would have been further up. But, even so, hopefully I got some points at least for the team.
"For me, once I got around the first couple of laps I was basically stuck where I was. I don't know whether I would have been able to make a big difference moving forwards or not. We definitely had the pace to be with the back but ultimately positioning was everything."
Hamilton passed on warm congratulations to race-winner Bottas, hailing the Finn's victory as an important strike in the constructors' standings as Mercedes retained a one-point lead over Ferrari.
"That's what the goal for the team is," Hamilton said. "It's great that we're in front of the Ferraris, it's stopped Sebastian pulling away super far [in the drivers' standings]. I'm just hopeful that in the next races maybe I'll be able to pick up the pace."