Christian Horner says "it was a frustrating end" to the Mexican Grand Prix despite Red Bull eventually finishing third and fourth after penalties.
Max Verstappen was running third on the road with Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo closing in, with the Dutch driver cutting Turn 2 in defence of his position against the Ferrari with four laps remaining and earning a five-second time penalty. That originally promoted Vettel to third, but the German then received a ten-second time penalty for moving under braking at Turn 4 against Ricciardo, demoting Vettel to fifth behind the Red Bull pair.
Despite the final result, Horner admits he was left frustrated because he believes Verstappen was unfairly penalised in the first place.
"It was a frustrating end to the race because it was such an exciting crescendo," Horner said. "We didn’t feel that Max had gained an advantage under braking for Turn 1. He’d obviously locked up, gone straight on through the grass, come out ahead of Sebastian. But if Sebastian had been alongside him, or making a passing move on him, then perhaps we would have understood more that penalty.
"It was no different to Lewis’ issue at the beginning of the race where he actually did come out further up the road. So we sought clarification from race control and they said they wanted to have a further look at it and establish who was ahead. So we left Verstappen in position without having a directive to let Sebastian go.
"In the meantime Daniel, who had made a stop with 20 odd laps to go on the soft tyre was catching Sebastian and we predicted him to catch him with 4 laps to go. He did that. Went to make a move into Turn 4, and there has been so much debate about movement on the brakes since Japan, a clear directive came out this weekend, and a clear movement was made on the brakes.
"Had that been prior to this weekend, it possibly would have been okay, but the rules are clearly what the rules are. So Sebastian has ended up with a 10 second penalty that has now elevated our drivers to third and fourth.
"So we have the slightly unusual scenario that Max finished third on the road, made it as far as the green room, for Sebastian to then go on the podium and take the plaudits, for Daniel to be taking the trophy home."