Red Bull boss Christian Horner has confirmed that Max Verstappen was ordered to relent on his engine towards the climax of the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday as, when it became clear he wouldn't sntch a podium finish, the team wanted to save the power unit for future races.
Verstappen, who was celebrating his 21st birthday, was in blistering form in Sochi and, after starting at the back of the grid due to a penalty, quickly shot up the rankings to finish fifth.
The Dutchman ended up leading more laps than anyone in the race thanks an extended opening stint on soft tyres, but was forced to hold back on the demands of his Red Bull car following a pit change to ultrasofts as the team could start to see worrying wear and tear,
"It was a shame he had to make the stop really, but of course it is mandatory," Horner told Sky Sports.
"The other compounds were very fragile, so we stopped as late as we could, but we could see already they were starting to chunk up a little bit.
"At that point you are too far behind Kimi to have a go at him, so it was a question of we took the penalty of the engines here, let's save these now for the races coming up."
Horner believes that the performance of the car in Russia was so impressive that he reckons Red Bull could have been contenders for the win if they hadn't started at the back of the grid due to their engine penalty.
"I think we had a really competitive race car this weekend," he continued.
"I think we would have been in the mix, and of course early on in the race they all start pacing themselves.
"We had a car that was very good on its tyres today. There was no sign of any blistering on the soft tyres for us today and it would have been nice to start in normal grid positions.
"But we have salvaged a good result out of this, and we've got a couple of engines up our sleeves for the final five races. We were more competitive here than we thought we would be. I think we could have taken Ferrari on yesterday."
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