Christian Horner has heaped praise on Max Verstappen after the Dutchman once again was able to split the two Mercedes Formula 1 drivers at the Russian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was unable to maintain second off the start as he surrendered a position to eventual race winner Valtteri Bottas.

But he capitalised on Lewis Hamilton’s two five-second penalties for a pitlane infringement to secure Red Bull’s maiden podium in Russia having never finished on the podium at the Sochi Autodrom in its history.

Valtteri Bottas Flies High As Lewis Hamilton Falls | F1 Winners & Losers Russian GP |

Horner expressed his delight of Verstappen splitting the Mercedes pair after the race.

“Absolutely, Mercedes had a faster car than us this weekend,” Horner said when asked if that was the maximum result possible for Red Bull.

“Obviously we benefited from Lewis’ penalty, but I think Max has just extracted every ounce of performance out of the car throughout the weekend. Our best result here in the six years we’ve been coming, so pleased with the drive from Max today.

“I think this circuit was always going to be difficult for us. We had quite a lot of clipping here and that always has an effect so I think it was skewed by that energy recovery. But we knew that before we got here, so it was always going to be a more challenging race for us.”

Horner admitted it was impossible to say whether Verstappen is currently ‘outperforming’ his Red Bull.

“Well the car will only go as fast as somebody can drive it,” Horner added. “We know that Max is driving at a very high level, we know that Lewis is capable of doing the same.

“Max’s lap in particular yesterday was sensational, and absolutely no mistakes today at all, a very mature and measured performance.”

Verstappen sits a comfortable third in the drivers’ championship, 33 points behind second-placed man Bottas.