Nico Rosberg had a frustrating end to his Spanish Grand Prix, conceding two positions to Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastian Vettel in the closing minutes and only just holding off Lewis Hamilton in a last corner lunge to the finish line.

"That was a difficult day for us and a very strange race. We didn't manage to find the right tyre management," he admitted. "I lost two positions towards the end of the race on my last stint which was 26 very long laps.

"The one positive thing is that I was able to defend my position against Lewis and keep seventh place, rather than eighth," he added.

"We didn't have the basic pace we needed this afternoon," admitted technical director Bob Bell, subbing for an unwell Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn in Barcelona this weekend. "The team did a good job on the stops and I believe we made the right tactical decisions to protect Nico's position at critical moments of the race, even though he ultimately ran out of grip in the closing laps on a long final stint."

Bell went on to reveal that there was a deeper problem at the Circuit de Catalunya than just routine tyre wear involved.

"We were hampered further with an issue on Nico's car," he said. "There was a clear loss of downforce measurable on the data, which made it even more difficult for Nico to look after the tyres properly, but whether this was down to damage or another factor is something we will have to investigate this evening.

"We spent our afternoon racing hard with Red Bull and McLaren - but it was only for places in the bottom half of the top ten today," summed up Bell. "The basic fact is that we needed more pace today, which is what we must bring over the coming races - and we will."

His words were echoed by Norbert Haug, the head of Mercede-Benz Motorsport, who admitted that: "We have to raise our game in the next race.

During the remainder of the season and I am sure that all our team members will work very hard to make the next steps and to achieve a better level of performance than we had today," he added.