Sebastian Vettel admitted Ferrari had not planned to pit just once during the Spanish Grand Prix, though the bold approach was rewarded with a seventh-place finish.
Vettel is enduring a difficult final season with Ferrari and the four-time world champion once again revealed confusion over team orders during Sunday's race in Barcelona.
Having said instructions given to him "didn't make any sense" after coming home 12th in the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix at Silverstone last weekend, the German this time around received mixed messages as he stayed out longer than expected on soft tyres.
After seeing his car home through some "really, really difficult" closing laps, Vettel revealed they had decided to take a risk after once again struggling during qualifying.
"It's quite simple - we didn't have anything to lose," he told Sky Sports F1.
"We were P11 and were trying to offset until the end of the race. Obviously we were catching the cars in front and they pitted for the second time, but I was not in a rush to catch them, managing the tyres. Then I was told to push, which I did.
"I was asked if I could make it to the end and I said you could have asked that three laps before when I asked a couple of times what the target was, how long was I going to go, because I wanted to look after the tyres.
"I said we'd try to make it and the last five laps were really, really difficult. It helped that we got lapped, to be honest.
"I think we obviously took that risk because we had nothing to lose, but it wasn't our plan beforehand to go close to 40 laps on the soft tyre."
Asked if this result was a sign of progress with the car, Vettel replied: "Still up and down.
"Some sessions feel better than others. The first stint felt quite poor but on the second I felt much more in control of the car. I still think there is some work to do."
Team-mate Charles Leclerc failed to finish due to an electrical issue, denying him the chance to claim points as he was the only driver to retire during proceedings.
"There was no chance of rejoining the race," he said. "The engine switched off and wouldn't start.
"I took off the seat belts so had to box for that again. I thought we had a chance of sixth or seventh."