Lewis Hamilton said he relied on his engineers to give him the best strategy to beat Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but they left him with a gap that was "way too big" to catch him at the end.
Hamilton closed the gap between himself and Rosberg to 1.359s when the German pitted for the second time, but was 12.573s in arrears after his own final pitstop over 10 laps later.
"I don't know the big picture and ultimately you have to rely on the engineers to give you the optimum strategy at that point," said Hamilton. "Honestly, I don't really understand it, but I came out 11 seconds behind.
"I had a mountain to climb, which I pushed as hard as I could but then the tyres went off.
"I left the team to make the call because I didn't know what was the right one.
"At the end of the day the gap was way too big, we left it too big, especially on the same tyres – there's no way you can catch that gap up, although I did everything I could. It's a shame, because I was quicker in the middle stint.
"To have that pace, and then come out 11s behind, er that's not such a great feeling."
Despite his third defeat on the trot, Hamilton insisted it wouldn't take the shine off his season.
He added: "It's very easy to forget the amount of wins we did have, nine or 10 wins, something like that, so we had a very good season, while the last three weren't very spectacular – but overall it was amazing."