Christian Horner says Red Bull's underwhelming Brazilian Grand Prix performance was a result of sacrificing performance to ensure its Renault engines ran reliably.
Red Bull came to the race at Interlagos as one of the in-form teams on the grid, having won two of the previous four races. The former world champions were expected to perform strongly but was unable to get involved in the close fight between Mercedes and Ferrari, with Max Verstappen claiming it was losing 0.5s a lap from its Renault power unit, which was the size of his gap to pole position.
Reliability has also been an issue for Renault recently, with Daniel Ricciardo joining both Toro Rosso drivers in serving grid penalties in Brazil, something team boss Horner said impacted the team's approach to the weekend.
"We ran pretty safe on engines," he said. "Obviously reliability has been a concern. I think the layout of this circuit, that long, last sector, just is a bit more punishing for us than Mexico. We couldn't make up the time in the middle sector which obviously is where we needed to."
During the race both Verstappen and Ricciardo, who had to settle for fifth and sixth, struggled to conserve tyres in both stints. Horner has put that down to how hard they had to push to compensate for a lack of power.
When asked how much performance the team gave up, he said: "Probably a couple of tenths. But you could see that couple of tenths was about what we were missing. Then Max is driving the car harder to stay with Kimi [Raikkonen] and Valtteri [Bottas]. When you get too close that starts damaging the tyres.
"You're in a vicious circle at that point. You're pushing to keep up, but you're losing the tyre at the end of the stint."