Christian Horner has defended Red Bull's decision to swap Sergio Perez with Max Verstappen during the Spanish Grand Prix as he thanked the Mexican driver for "playing the team game".
Perez, on an alternate tyre strategy, was told to move aside for Verstappen during the closing stages of the 66-lap encounter.
His World Champion teammate was on a charge and sporting newer tyres when the two met on track, but Perez was told not to fight him for the win.
That allowed Verstappen to breeze past with ease as he secured the 24th Grand Prix win of his career to take the lead in the title race after Charles Leclerc's DNF.
Speaking to his race engineer via the team radio, Perez said: "That's very unfair, but okay... I am happy for the team, but we need to speak later."
Horner claims Perez would not have finished one-stop race
Horner moved to thank Perez after the race and claimed that the former Sauber and McLaren man would not have made it to the chequered flag, had he tried to fight it out with Verstappen.
"I've just got a shout-out for Checo, playing the team game today," Horner said, speaking to Sky Sports F1.
"They weren't in the same race, their strategies were different, but they worked together fantastically well.
"The problem that we had, as we could see with other cars, we had temperatures raging in our water, oil, brakes. And the last thing you want to risk is a DNF, when you've got two cars that can potentially nail a 1-2.
"They were on different strategies, so it wasn't a straight fight. Max had such a tyre advantage and, of course, Checo with those tyres wouldn't have made it, we don't think, to the end."
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Horner confident Perez will understand
Horner expects Perez to understand Red Bull's decision once he has viewed the "bigger picture" of the race.
The result allowed Verstappen to build the points lead he holds over his teammate.
"I think now we need to discuss it, openly," continued Horner.
"I think he'll see that he had 30 laps to do on that Medium tyre which, in the end, we needed a pit to make sure we covered [George] Russell.
"I think, even tonight, he'll get it. It's such a bigger picture. As I say, temperatures were raging, beyond all the limits that we've ever seen, because of the hot weather here."
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