Toto Wolff blamed a glitch in Mercedes' software for the situation that cost Lewis Hamilton the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.
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).
READ MORE: Ferrari got lucky, admits Vettel
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.
"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."
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."