Verstappen had the edge over the Mercedes drivers in the final grand prix of the season, taking his first pole position of 2020 and following that up with a race win.
He crossed the line almost 16 seconds ahead of Bottas with Hamilton a further two-and-a-half back.
Motorsport boss Toto Wolff revealed Mercedes’ limited pace was because the team had to turn down the MGU-K element of the engine because of reliability concerns.
“We took a little bit of power, a little bit of performance out of all the Mercedes engines,” Wolff told Motorsport-Total.com.
“We have a gremlin in there. The damage to the MGU-K occurred below the mileage it is normally supposed to last. And we do not yet understand exactly why.”
The drivers, though, have downplayed the Austrian’s comments, saying they weren’t aware that their engines had the power turned down.
“Honestly, I wasn’t aware that the engine was turned down,” said Bottas.
“I can’t really say much. I don’t know if it was how much it was. So, I don’t know.
“Red Bull was obviously quicker and for the first time this year they have such a gap on the race pace against us so… not much more to say.”
His team-mate Lewis Hamilton also wasn’t aware of it.
“Same really,” he said. “I don’t… naturally, when we go back now we will ask about it because I wasn’t aware of that, personally.
“I arrived late Thursday night so I think HPP and Mercedes have done an amazing job this year for us. You like at my reliability, for example, it’s been… managed to finish every race so it’s been really fantastic but there have been issues with other engines that Mercedes have done, for example for the Force India and with the Williams so it’s not… we definitely have work to do
“If they have done something then it would make sense for sure and I’m just grateful that we finished now and we’re not going to be using the engines anyway so… they were good enough for us to do donuts!”
When Verstappen revealed he had read that the Mercedes engines were turned down, both Hamilton and Bottas expressed their surprise.
MV: I also read that they had to turn the engines down a bit, so that’s not helping for them
LH: What’s that about the engine?
MV: The MGU-K.
MV: Yeah that’s what they said?
LH: Is that right? I don’t think that’s the case.
VB: Maybe it is, but we don’t know.
MV: Maybe they just don’t want to tell you!