Daniel Ricciardo said he felt “bitter” about the strategy decision that led him to lose the Spanish Grand Prix to Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen.
The Australian led the first 28 laps but was switched to a three-stop strategy and ended up finishing fourth.
“I’m a bit devastated. A big part of me is happy the team are on winning form but it’s hard to celebrate,” he said.
“To not be on the podium sucks. I will pull the guys aside who I need to ask them what the deal was today.”
The decision handed the lead to Verstappen, who hung on despite pressure from Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen to win on his debut for Red Bull, following his promotion from the junior Toro Rosso team.
“I don’t want to come across as a bad sportsman,” Ricciardo said. “Whatever happened on track, Max crossed the line first.
“Sure, it is every man for himself and I’m bitter, but not at Max, he did what he had to do, but I’m bitter at the situation.”
Team boss Christian Horner said Red Bull split the drivers’ strategies because they were under pressure from both Raikkonen and Ferrari team-mate Sebastian Vettel in quicker cars.
“It was always going to be tricky to keep the Ferraris behind us,” Horner said.
“In clean air, Ferrari probably had a slight car advantage on us.
“We elected to split the strategies because it wasn’t obvious which was going to be the quicker route, the three-stop or the two-stop, and we felt Sebastian in clean air looked to be the fastest car and we were asking: ‘How do we beat Vettel?’
“We felt by splitting our strategies it gave us both options because we knew the two-stop was going to be under a lot of pressure at the end of the race in terms of degradation.
“Max looked after his tyres incredibly well to make sure he had just enough left to fend off Kimi in the last few laps.”
Horner paid tribute to Verstappen’s achievement in becoming the youngest driver ever to win in F1.
“Max’s performance has been exemplary,” Horner said.
“The biggest aspect has been his calmness. He has a lot of capacity when driving the car.
“He is a young man completely in control of what he was doing.
“He did a 27.5 on his first flying lap and since then he has not put a wheel wrong all weekend.”
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