Mark Webber admitted that Red Bull was expecting its rivals to suffer higher tyre wear when it opted for a three-stop strategy in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Webber had made it through from 11th on the grid to fifth but his final stop dropped him back to eighth. The majority of the other frontrunners pitted only twice, and Webber conceded Red Bull's tactics were wrong.
"I think we were hoping people would be in a bit more trouble at the end with the tyres. That's where we lost the three positions. Fifth place was there," said Webber.
"I was thinking of staying out. Obviously we had a nice cushion and laptimes were going pretty well, but it's always hard to know.
"We've had plenty of incidents this year where people drop off the cliff [of tyre performance]. In the end, the strategy didn't really work out. We lost three places through trying something different.
"Also overtaking's very difficult, so you need bad tyres for the other guys and a good run in the last sector. I was quicker but couldn't get the job done."
Webber's team-mate Sebastian Vettel also pitted three times, but it did not affect his race result as he had a sufficient gap behind to retain fourth place when he stopped for the final tyre change.
"I was just following Romain [Grosjean] around and trying to do something different in the end, I think, was the right thing," said Vettel.
"It was marginal coming out ahead of Fernando [Alonso], but it was good. It could've been a different story. Their tyres could have gone off. We did everything we could."
The result leaves Webber 40 points behind championship leader Alonso, with Vettel two points further adrift.
"We've got work to do," Webber admitted. "We've had a little bit of friendly fire with ourselves. Yesterday was down to me. But we still have good points and it's still open for the rest of the year.
"Obviously Fernando grabbed a few more today. It was a disappointing grand prix. I risked quite a bit on the first lap and managed to get some things back, but in the end it didn't quite work out for us today."
Vettel reckoned his race was ruined when he lost out to Jenson Button on the first lap, and said while he had no doubts about Red Bull's pace, it needed to maximise its potential better.
"I think the car is not so bad in the race, but we need to have better starts and better first laps," he said.