Red Bull says that it did not believe a one-stop strategy was going to be possible when it pitted Daniel Ricciardo early in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The Australian's early race advantage over teammate Max Verstappen was wiped away when he was pulled in from his opening stint on supersoft tyres.
That dropped him back into the battle with Ferrari, while Verstappen – who had spun at the first corner – was then left free to continue at the front and eventually switch to a one-stop.
Explaining the circumstances behind the decision that effectively helped Verstappen finish in front of Ricciardo, team boss Christian Horner said a combination of circumstances forced the move.
"We weren't convinced that the supersoft at that stage were going to have the longevity that they had," he said. "He'd picked up a bit of a flat spot on the first lap into Turn 1 and we were also looking at the pace that Sebastian had on the out lap.
"What we didn't want to do was concede a place to Sebastian [Vettel] so it wasn't totally clear that Daniel would be able to pull away and clear that group. Doing a one-stop wasn't even in our thinking at that point.
"So that's why we pitted Daniel. It was a combination of the flat spot, Vettel going very quick on his out lap and wanting to make sure that we didn't lose a position."
Horner added that the decision to switch Verstappen to a one-stop was prompted by the fact that the pace of the Mercedes duo – as Lewis Hamilton tried to back Nico Rosberg up – meant his Dutch driver was not losing ground.
"It looked like Rosberg was being instructed not to go anywhere near Max and, whilst he was doing that, obviously that was making the one stop become more and more available," he said.
"Lewis looked like he was hanging back, waiting for him, so the fact that Max was able to get to lap 21 on the supersoft tyre was fantastic - and from that point onwards it looked like a one stop was absolutely the plan.
"So we stopped Ricciardo pretty shortly afterwards as well, to get the undercut on Kimi. But [in doing that] I think we demonstrated to Ferrari how good the super soft tyre was and they had one set left available going into the race, which was why they used it with Sebastian at the end there."
When asked why Red Bull had not mirrored Ferrari's tactics and run a short final stint on supersofts to charge through, Horner said: "Because we didn't have any super-soft tyres left. What we felt was that he [Hamilton] would back it up, that there would be some racing going on in the last few laps there.
"You could see how Max on a pretty used tyre, a tyre that was close to 10 laps older was catching catching catching over those last few laps."