Sebastian Vettel says Red Bull will continue to limit its practice mileage to conserve engine life and has no plans to deliberately take an engine penalty at a potentially weak track.
The German is on his eighth and final Renault V8 of the season after a series of recent failures. He sat out most of Friday practice at Monza and expects to do so again at forthcoming races.
"To survive with the engines we have is quite simple - they have to be all perfect from now on," Vettel told Formula 1.com. "Friday running, as we have seen at the last two races, is very restricted for me and for sure we cannot have another failure. If we do, obviously we have to accept the penalty and take an extra engine. That is not what we want, so the plan at the moment is to run a little on Friday in order to avoid the penalty."
There had been suggestions that Red Bull should change to a fresh engine at a track where it expected to struggle anyway and then take advantage of the extra mileage at subsequent races. Vettel admitted this might have been a good strategy at Monza, where he qualified ninth and finished eighth in Red Bull's least competitive weekend of the season, but said it was too risky to predict in advance when a penalty could be taken with least cost.
"With hindsight it probably would have been okay to take a new engine and the penalty in Monza when you look at the result, but then you never know," he said.
Red Bull head Dietrich Mateschitz suggested earlier this week that Renault's lack of power and reliability was to blame for the team's decline in recent rounds, but Vettel said the poor results in Italy could not be solely put down to the engine.
"I think our performance in Monza was not an engine problem, but I am not telling a secret when I say that the Mercedes engine is a very strong engine," he said. "But we have to be fair to our partner Renault. They are trying to do their best and are working very hard, so I don't think that we've lost out in Monza due to engine problems."
Red Bull's Monza disaster and Brawn's one-two in the race means that Vettel is now 26 points behind Jenson Button in the championship. Although Mateschitz says his team's title hopes are now over, Vettel insists he will not give up yet.
"I will fight to the last breath and minute," he said. "From now on our target has to be to win. We will see every race separately, and in the end we will count the points and will see whether it is enough or not. It's true the gap is quite big - 26 points says it all - and it will be very difficult to catch up, but be sure we will try."