Toto Wolff blamed a glitch in Mercedes' software for the situation that cost Lewis Hamilton the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Vettel glory after Hamilton pit failures
As in 2017, defending champion Hamilton finished second to Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel, having squandered the lead during a round of pit stops.
Hamilton dropped behind Vettel when he pitted but could not regain top spot after Vettel stopped under the virtual safety car (VSC).
Team principal Wolff said Hamilton's shortfall was down to a miscalculation by the systems used by Mercedes to calculate the gaps between their drivers and those from other teams.
"It’s very hard to take because we had the pace," he told Sky Sports. "For whatever reason, we need to find out, we lost the win.
"We thought we had about three seconds' margin. I don’t know what happened to them, we need to ask the computers and that’s what we are doing at the moment. Whether we had a software problem somewhere, we need to fix it.
Overall, this weekend has been positive. Congrats to Seb and the guys in red, today they did the better job and we go back to the drawing board. We still have great pace and are looking forward to putting all of the learnings to the test in Bahrain #AusGP #F1 @MercedesAMGF1 pic.twitter.com/B2KPiQvYW3— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) March 25, 2018
"I think the problem is within our systems. I think we have a bug somewhere that said 15 seconds is what you need, we had 12, it should have been enough but it wasn’t.
"He was attacking flat out but you can see the overtaking is pretty bad here. Even the mega overtakers couldn't make a pass.
"Lewis had to give up [in the last few laps] because the tyres wouldn't have made it to the end."
Big to the Team this weekend!— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) March 25, 2018
One rebuilt race car! The other one on the podium. A good bag full of early points in the bag! We march on to Bahrain #DrivenByEachOther #F1 #AusGP pic.twitter.com/zCOznJrdyl
Wolff added: "I think we have a software issue with the VSC data, a situation that we haven't had yet with a special constellation of cars on track, one going in high speeds and one in slow speeds.
"The gap that we needed was wrongly calculated by the systems.
"I think the way the algorithm is set up, the way the computer is being programmed, we always had the green light and the gap was enough for us to stay ahead. And then we saw the TV pictures and it wasn't enough."