Red Bull said it was surprised at the way Ferrari threw away its chances of a podium finish at the Japanese Grand Prix with its strategy choice.

Sebastian Vettel had run third in the early stages of the Suzuka event – ahead of Lewis Hamilton – when Ferrari elected to try a long middle stint and a final switch to soft tyres.

That move allowed Hamilton to win the undercut and challenge eventual runner-up Max Verstappen, with Vettel only able to finish fourth.

Speaking about Ferrari's strategy call, Christian Horner said: "We toyed with that because once you have been undercut, then you have to try something different. So we went longer, but the tyres were dropping off at a point where we didn't think we could get to the end on the soft.

"So it was a question of again going on the hard. But what really surprised us was Sebastian going onto the soft tyre when he was in the position of reasonable strength around Max with 19 laps to go. That surprised us quite a bit."

Horner thinks that the strategy decision by Ferrari was especially surprising because the Maranello-based outfit appeared to have a faster car around the Suzuka circuit.

"Pace wise this weekend they [Ferrari] were strong and arguably, they were slightly stronger than us," he said. "This track you are at full throttle - and it is one of the higher engine dependent circuits.

"So I was delighted we were able to convert our grid positions into positive points today and I think strategically we were stronger as well. We made the most of the position we had with Max.

"He drove a very, very mature race and we expected – had Ferrari stopped a lap later – for them to be putting Max under pressure towards the end of the race.

"But they chose a different route and in the end that assisted Lewis, and the pressure came from Lewis rather than Seb."


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