Max Verstappen felt Red Bull’s decision to pit him for fresh tyres during a late Safety Car period “saved” his hopes of winning the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Verstappen had to twice overtake newly-crowned six-time world champion Lewis Hamilton en route to claiming his and the Honda-powered Red Bull team’s third win of the season.

The Dutchman had already passed Hamilton once when a late Safety Car was deployed after Valtteri Bottas stopped on track with an engine problem. Red Bull subsequently rolled the dice and opted to pit him for new Soft tyres, while Mercedes favoured track position with Hamilton on older Mediums.

Verstappen swept around the outside of Hamilton at Turn 1 with a stunning immediate move at the restart, before going on to seal his first victory since the German Grand Prix in July.

“Mercedes was quick again, but I think as a team we did a really good job with the pit stop strategy,” Verstappen said.

“I think especially the last one to get the call to get back on the red tyres, that basically saved our race and gave us the opportunity to fight Lewis again into Turn 1. It was of course incredible to come out on top again.”

“I had to keep pushing and all the time with the strategy Lewis pitted a lap earlier so we had to be really on top of our pit stops,” he added.

“Two times we had a good move with him to get back into first and from there onwards I could control the race with the tyres I had.

“I was pushing flat-out on my out lap to be closer because it was my only shot. I was close into the DRS and we knew that we had great top speed all weekend already, so I’m very happy to get past.”