Max Verstappen believes Mercedes are 'unbeatable' and that he would have struggled in the Formula 1 Brazilian Grand Prix Sprint race even if they started on the Soft tyres.
From second on the grid, Verstappen passed pole-man Kevin Magnussen on Lap 3 and pulled away, but was pursued by George Russell in the Mercedes.
Soft-shod Russell tried to pass two times into Turn 4, but on Lap 15 powered past the Red Bull and pulled away as Verstappen struggled.
He was passed by both Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton after sustaining front wing damage, but will start third as Sainz is taking a five-place grid drop.
After the Sprint, Verstappen was not sure Red Bull would have had the pace to win having struggled throughout.
Verstappen on troubles
"They look unbeatable, but I will analyse everything, and [we] would have finished fourth anyway even with a complete front wing," Verstappen explained to media about the pace of the Mercedes duo and his own race.
"It can't get any worse than this and it is frustrating to make slight contact with Carlos.
"It was tiny, but it broke my end plate and a little bit of the structure that [broke off.]
"[The race] was a bit more difficult than we expected, and I didn't expect to have that much deg.
"Even on the Soft tyres, we wouldn't have been fast enough so we were clearly struggling on keeping the tyres alive, so it is something we need to try and fix for tomorrow."
Video: How do F1 sprint races work?
It will be the third and final Formula 1 sprint race of the season in Brazil. We've put together a handy refresher to explain how the weekend differs slightly from the usual format.