Lewis Hamilton believes it will now be “very hard” for Mercedes to beat Formula 1 rivals Ferrari at the remaining six rounds of the 2019 season.

Ferrari surprised the paddock with its performance around the Marina Bay Street Circuit as it recorded its first one-two finish in two years and a third consecutive victory in 2019, with Sebastian Vettel leading home teammate Charles Leclerc in last Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix.

Mercedes had been tipped as pre-race favourites given the strength of its W10 challenger around high-downforce, slow speed tracks, but Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were left to settle with a disappointing fourth and fifth place respectively.

Speaking about Ferrari’s performance in Singapore, Hamilton said: “I tend to think I’m a realist so I see the situation we’re in and they’ve just come up with some sort of upgrade that’s perhaps put their car in… Maybe they already had a good car all year, it just wasn’t working in the right window.

“Because they couldn’t have brought - well maybe they did but it’s unlikely - that they brought a massive, massive upgrade that brought them 20 or 30 points or something, which is the performance level you’d have expected they would have taken here.

“But clearly their car works really well everywhere now, so it’s going to be very hard to beat them, particularly as they are so quick on the straights.

“We can’t compete with them on the straights at the moment. But we have won before with not the best car, it’s just really how we deliver over the weekend and at the moment they are delivering better on both ends.

“If we were better in the operations area then I think we can just pip them. But today we did enough in the race - in the first stint - to have come out in the lead.

“But the whole process didn’t work as well as it should do. So we just have to get back together, work hard and move forwards.”

Mercedes is now without a victory since F1’s summer break having failed to finish on the podium with at least one of its cars for only the second time this season. Added to its concerns, Ferrari introduced a revised aerodynamic package in Singapore that appeared to significantly enhance its performance.

Asked if Mercedes is now relying on upgrades to get back on top of its battle against Ferrari, Hamilton replied: “Upgrades are something that takes months and months.

“For example you can’t just decide now that we want an upgrade next week, it’s months and months of planning.

“So I’m sure we do have upgrades coming at some stage, I don’t know when, I don’t think it’s the next one. I don’t know how much is coming over the last races that we have but these next few races are going to be tough.”