Verstappen was noticeably wary in his approach on the run down to Turn 1 in Sunday’s race as he attempted to stay out of trouble, having started right in the middle of the pack in 10th after an engine problem ruined his qualifying. 

A decent launch put Verstappen level with Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren and Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas, but sandwiched between the pair, Verstappen lifted to not risk contact. The brief loss of momentum allowed Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez to shoot past on the left. 

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Verstappen then had a near-miss with Kevin Magnussen’s Haas on the entry to Turn 1, but a better exit, aided by Magnussen being blocked by Ricciardo, enabled the Red Bull driver to pick up two spots on the run to Turn 2.

That left him ninth and running directly behind Perez, who conceded eighth place to Verstappen at the chicane. 

Verstappen went on to claim a remarkable victory - his eighth win in 13 races this year - with a clinical performance, despite a full 360 spin.

Asked where the victory ranks among Verstappen’s 28 F1 career wins, Horner replied: “I think it’s right up there. 

“The start, you saw him, it’s the first time I’ve seen him being cautious. He got himself a little bit pinched in the middle of the pack there, but thereafter his pace, the way he managed the issues that he had was phenomenal.”

Explaining his conservative approach to the start of the race, Verstappen, who was hit by Bottas at Turn 1 last year in Hungary, said: “We said to each other that we have to remain calm before the race, and I think we did that. And we made all the right calls in the race.

“It was a bit hectic for me in the first lap, getting a bit boxed in and staying out of trouble.”

Verstappen has earned a reputation for being a fiercely aggressive driver, a trait he regularly relied on during his titanic championship duel with Lewis Hamilton in 2021. 

But this season, Verstappen has also demonstrated a more calculated approach to his racing. 

Verstappen has so far avoided contact with main title rival Charles Leclerc, who the Dutchman leads by 80 points in the championship.

Such is Verstappen’s advantage, he could win his second world title without picking up a single victory across the final nine races of the season. 

“Not really,” said Verstappen when asked if he will change his approach to wheel-to-wheel combat given his large points buffer. 

“I think as a team we still want to win more races and that's what we'll definitely try to do after the break.”