Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has explained the team's puzzling decision to start Max Verstappen on the medium tyres for the São Paulo Grand Prix sprint.
The two-time champion started behind Haas driver Kevin Magnussen for the 24-lap event but assumed the lead before DRS was activated.
Along with Nicholas Latifi, Verstappen was the only driver on the medium tyre and he struggled for pace as the race drew on, first being overtaken by eventual winner George Russell before Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton followed through.
"We felt the soft was a bit limited in range," Horner told Sky Sports F1.
"So we took the decision to start on the mediums and thought if we could survive the first 12 laps, the second half of the race would become a little comfortable.
"Having survived the first half of the race, we found ourselves actually with worse degradation than the softs.
"Mercedes had a very quick car and we couldn't hold them off."
Verstappen damage hampers progress
Verstappen was hampered by damage in the closing stages, having hit debris following an earlier on-track incident before losing his front-wing endplate when colliding with Sainz.
"I don't know whether Alex Albon had a bit of damage but Max was the first through there and he reported that he hit a bit of debris so we need to see if that affected the car at all," explained Horner.
"Then he had a touch with Carlos which was really a racing incident.
"Thankfully, that endplate flew away pretty quickly."