Lewis Hamilton received an apology from Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff after finishing a sorry 13th in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.
Seven-time Formula One king Hamilton was told by Wolff his car had been "undriveable", and "not worthy for a world champion".
Wolff also said it had been "a terrible race" for the team. That was despite George Russell faring rather better than team-mate Hamilton, coming home in fourth position to collect points.
Hamilton wound up empty-handed and sits seventh in the championship with 28 points from the first four races of the season, already 21 points behind Russell and 58 adrift of leader Charles Leclerc.
To boot on Sunday, there was the embarrassment of Hamilton being lapped by Max Verstappen on lap 40, a sign of the times in their rivalry.
In an exchange over team radio at the end of the race, Silver Arrows team principal Wolff told Hamilton: "Sorry for what you have needed to drive today.
"I know this is undriveable and not what we deserve to score as a result. So we will move from there, but this was a terrible race."
Hamilton replied: "Yeah, no worries, Toto. Let's keep working hard."
George crosses the line in P4 to salvage points from a difficult weekend for the Team. pic.twitter.com/jV0YRCVV7s— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) April 24, 2022
Mercedes face a major challenge to match the pace of the Ferrari and Red Bull cars this season, with the next race a fortnight away in Miami.
"We will come out of this," Wolff said.
Speaking later to Sky Sports, Wolff said it had been a "really bad" result for Hamilton.
"He got squeezed by the Alpine, the other two cars undercut and there's just no overtaking when you're in a DRS train," Wolff said.
"We saw from George what the car can do in free air, but we are not good enough for a world champion, not worthy for a world champion. We just need to fix the car.
"I think we are going to look at things for Miami. I think we can make a step in the understanding of the car. It's another day, we just really need to understand more and bring development to the car which will fix the bouncing."