Lewis Hamilton says he cannot afford any more bad luck if he is to beat Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to the world title this season.
The German is 36 points ahead after winning the Chinese Grand Prix while the world champion finished seventh.
Hamilton said: “There is a long way to go, but I’ve no more jokers available.”
But the British 31-year-old said he “didn’t feel the dark cloud I have had in the past over me”, adding: “We will get up and try harder next time.”
Rosberg has now won the first three races this season while Hamilton has had a series of unfortunate incidents that have consigned him to second, third and now seventh.
No driver who has won the first three races has ever failed to go on to win the championship that year.
But it emerged in Hamilton’s post-race news conference that he had expected the gap to be bigger than it was.
“Thirty-six behind?” he said. “OK. That’s not as bad as I thought. I feel pretty good right now. I thought it was 50.”
However, Hamilton did refer to the 29-point deficit he recovered to win the title in 2014 when he said: “It doesn’t feel any nicer than it did back then. If anything it feels worse perhaps now because it has gone one negative after the other.”
He added: “These things happen. They are sent to try us. I haven’t got an amazing feeling but I have the utmost confidence in this team and we will recover from this at some point.
“When? Who knows, but hoping for better races to come.
“Of course it is a trying time and lots of different emotions are going through my mind, as you see a season start the wrong way, and you see a championship you were focused on as your goal move further away as you’re approaching it.
“But this is a part of motor racing and a part of the journey. Due to the experiences, my mechanics and engineers, it brings us closer and it makes us stronger. Good start, great overtaking. Lots of positives to take from today.”
Rosberg dismissed suggestions that he now had an element of control.
“It’s too early to make any summaries, you know? It’s three races now and they’ve gone really well for me but it’s the longest season in F1 history with 21 races so that’s 18 to go.
“It would not make sense to make any premature conclusions on whether the start was good or bad. Let’s wait and see.
“Of course I’m happy with the way it’s gone and I’m feeling good and the car’s there but I don’t want to say more than that.
“Lewis is not many points behind, I don’t know, something like 30 points; that’s not much. That’s a race and a bit and he’s as focused and motivated as ever.
“He will never give up and he’s the benchmark. He’s been the benchmark for the last years so the battle is going to be a big battle as always.”