Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner says the team had to sacrifice speed for reliability during Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix as it sweated on a possible failure on its Renault power unit.

Renault has encountered a number of issues with its power units in recent races, with Daniel Ricciardo failing to finish in either the United States or Mexico due to a problem, as well as taking a grid penalty in Brazil in order to fit a new part.

Even with a fresh MGU-H on Ricciardo’s car, Red Bull remained wary about the reliability of the Renault power unit, prompting it to race with the engines turned down on both its cars.

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Max Verstappen and Ricciardo were left to finish fifth and sixth respectively, having overworked their tyres through the middle sector in a vain attempt to make up for the straight-line speed deficit.

“We ran pretty safe on engines, obviously reliability has been a concern,” team boss Horner told Sky Sports after the race.

“I think the layout of this circuit, that long, last sector, just is a bit more punishing for us than Mexico. We couldn't make up the time in the middle sector which obviously is where we needed to.”

When asked how much turning the engines down cost Red Bull, Horner said: “Probably a couple of tenths. But you could see that couple of tenths was about what we were missing.

“Then Max is driving the car harder to stay with Kimi [Raikkonen] and Valtteri [Bottas]. When you get too close that starts damaging the tyres.

“You're in a vicious circle at that point. You're pushing to keep up, but you're losing the tyre at the end of the stint.

“We're hearing that Renault are making gains. If they can do that over the winter and most importantly address reliability, I'm confident we can give the drivers the car next year to put a really good campaign together.”