Sebastian Vettel was the 2017 title favourite in the first half of the season, but driver errors and car reliability meant Ferrari’s challenge collapsed suddenly.
Arrivabene told Speed Week the difference could be a winning mentality.
“For Mercedes, first place is not an event but a habit,” said the Italian. “That’s how it has to be for us in the future.
“We are on an uptrend, but the fact remains that we were not good enough to win the championship,” Arrivabene added.
He also admits that Mercedes was simply stronger.
“If you do not respect a team that has won four consecutive world titles, who will you respect? For me, their great strength lies in the organisation.
“Perhaps it is also the winning habit that makes the difference. Sometimes you get a pole position and it’s a big deal.
“But to be in front, whether it’s in qualifying or in the race, it should be the natural result of our work,” he said.
“I see the season like a glass of water. By the middle of the season, the glass was half full. But then we used the remaining water to dissolve the headache tablets at the end of the season,” Arrivabene smiled.
“We worked well and never gave up, which is the positive aspect for me. But things did not go in our favour. Mercedes deserved to win,” he said.
“We have to work harder. We know what we need to do in the future.”