Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel simply outperformed Hamilton on the day, and Hamilton wasn't surprised.
"I didn't really know how quick they were going to be in the race," he said. "The pace they showed in testing was obviously true.
"Today, their speed particularly in that first stint on the ultrasoft tyres was fantastic.
"To be honest my real strength wasn't until right at the end of the race, but it was far too late by then."
The crucial moment came when Hamilton pitted at the end of lap 17, earlier than many had been expecting. Vettel lasted six laps longer and was able to gain track position as a result.
"I expected to do the strategy that I did," Hamilton insisted. "I only stopped a lap earlier than my normal target. Just couldn't go any further. I'd basically used up all the money that I had on those tyres."
Hamilton found himself stuck behind Max Verstappen while Vettel managed to build up a big lead that effectively sealed the race.
The Briton said he simply hadn't been able to find a way past the Red Bull, and feared that this might set the tone for the rest of the season.
"It's always been tough to follow in Formula 1. It's definitely for me a lot worse, as I'd anticipated. I hope that doesn't mean that for the rest of the year it's more of a train.
"I don't know if it was exciting for you guys to watch. But for me personally I want to be closer up with cars and more close wheel-to-wheel battling. It's really with strategy through pit stops that we're racing right now."
Mercedes will now have to work hard to turn their fortunes around in time for the next race in two weeks time in China.
"It's really just set-up and things we'll be able to change for next time to make things better," he said. "Just got to make sure you stay up in front.
"But it's great - we've got a race on our hands!"