Christian Horner insists Red Bull had no choice but to put Mark Webber on a three-stopper in Japan as he ate his tyres in a short first stint.
Chasing Romain Grosjean around the Suzuka circuit after the Lotus driver's flying start, Webber was one of the first to pit for fresh rubber as he used up his first set.
As a result of that short first stint, the Aussie driver had to adopt a three-stop strategy which ultimately lost out to Sebastian Vettel's two-stopper.
"The key aspect was the first stint," explained his team boss Horner.
"We went in to the race thinking it was going to be marginal for a two-stop, but probably in clear air we could do that.
"The first stint dictated everything for us though.
"Mark put Grosjean under quite a lot of pressure and went through the tyre phases pretty quickly to the point that he had run out of tyres by the lap he pitted on.
"That was too short for us in our own minds to make a two-stop really work, because you would have effectively run out of tyres in that last stint.
"So, as the race opened up for Mark, and [Daniel] Ricciardo held the rest of the field back, some clear track space opened up.
"While Grosjean pitted to cover Mark, Sebastian was able to get in clear air to run at a very quick pace having conserved his tyres. That happened again during the second stint and, as the gap opened up, for Mark effectively it was a free stop.
"We felt that was the best way to attack and pass Grosjean with Mark and do the opposite with Sebastian."
The team boss added that if Webber had caught Vettel in the latter stages, he would have been free to race his team-mate.
"We discussed it before the race that the drivers were free to race each other and at one point in the race it looked like Mark - if Grosjean had held Seb up - would be on the better tyre at that point and have the better chance of winning," Horner said.
"But Seb made the move early and quickly, and building a bit of a lead was critical for his race."
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