Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff says they are in a "dungeon" following a dismal Belgian Grand Prix that saw Lewis Hamilton crash out on the first lap.
The Silver Arrows, last year's constructors' champions, have suffered a disappointing 2022 campaign compared to rivals Red Bull and Ferrari.
Seven-time world drivers' champion Hamilton, pipped in controversial circumstances by Max Verstappen last season, has been off the pace in 2022, while the Dutchman's win at Spa edged him closer to another title.
Wolff admitted it has been a frustrating season for the Briton and team-mate George Russell, acknowledging it has been hard to be on the outside looking in at glory this year.
"They say you never lose [but] you learn," he was quoted by the Guardian. "I can tell you it is ******* difficult.
"All these nice Instagram posts and everything we have talked about over the eight years, about how we are going to take this when you arrive in the dungeon.
"To stick to your principles and your values, to keep the spirit up and continue to relentlessly seek to get better? Phew. There is more to write a book about this year than there is about the last eight years."
Leaving Spa unsatisfied. But fired up to keep working hard and keep improving. pic.twitter.com/dntN9EV8Xr— Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team (@MercedesAMGF1) August 28, 2022
Hamilton saw his race come to a premature end after a collision with Fernando Alonso, but the major issues plaguing Mercedes have been race-to-race inconsistency rather than one-off errors.
"It's very difficult to cope with these swings," Wolff added. "We had a totally sub-par performance in qualifying, [and] then in the race, sometimes we go three seconds a lap faster.
"There are big question marks about what is going on. It's not where we should be with the structure and knowledge to understand a racing car but we don't with this one.
"Whatever we decide for next year, it needs to be carefully evaluated because clearly our data does not give us the results, doesn't correlate it with the reality. We have massive swings in performance we can't really get on top of.
"In this moment to take a decision for next year, changing a concept dramatically, how can you be sure that is the better direction to go because clearly you would be starting a way back?"