Horner admitted the team was concerned Verstappen could suffer a puncture similar to the one Sebastian Vettel suffered in the closing stages of the British Grand Prix.
But just when the 32-year-old seemed set for a trouble-free run to the 61st win of his career, his pace suddenly dropped and he complained of tyre vibrations following a period under a virtual safety car.
"We've benefited from Ferrari's misfortune and reliability woes in the last three races, but it doesn't mean that we are clapping ourselves on the back".
Verstappen had a fright as he slid off onto the gravel before Sainz smashed into a tyre wall after exiting the hairpin, mangling his Toro Rosso and bringing out the red flags.
Bling bling: When Takuma Sato came to the podium to conduct the post race interviews, something caught Hamilton's attention. "The pace was really good in the end, and that was what we expected with the strategy choice, so there was opportunities at the end, but not enough laps left".
Sebastian Vettel is pinning his hopes on sunshine in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix to brighten his championship chances, after a lack of speed in qualifying further clouded his title prospects.
Lewis Hamilton intends to go flat out for his fourth world championship rather than ease off and stumble over the line. I owe it to everyone here and back at the factory, and again the support that we get, it really does help lift us, so a big thank you to everyone.
The time shattered seven times world champion Michael Schumacher's previous outright best at the circuit by 1.6 seconds.
Wolff concedes that holding such a good points margin over Ferrari with only four races to go is a huge boost, but says that the way Ferrari's championship challenge has collapsed means that Mercedes must be mindful not to suffer the same fate. Räikkönen did well to finish fifth considering he was forced to start at 10th on the grid due to a gearbox change penalty.
"I was driving down the back straight at one point and I'm thinking 'Jeez, the guy behind me is so much younger than me, I've got make sure I kind of man up and show my age'".
The Briton will be joined on the front-row by the Ferrari of Vettel - who was third fastest but moves up after the second Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas was hit with a grid penalty.
"I just don't think there is a need to make any changes". Which was a shame, I think it was a pretty decent race. Yet in both Malaysia and Japan the Spanish star flagrantly failed to move out of the way of leading cars, ultimately robbing fans of potential wheel-to-wheel action. "I love the track".
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