After starting at the back of the grid, Verstappen made solid progress through the field.

Once the pit stops played out, the Dutchman was running in seventh behind Fernando Alonso.

The race turned on its head when it started to rain in the closing laps, with there being a clear split between those who stopped for intermediates and those who stayed out on the slicks.

Verstappen timed his pit stop perfectly, propelling himself up the order as the likes of Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc stayed out.

Speaking after the race, Horner revealed it was Verstappen’s call to pit.

“You could see Sergio [Perez] wasn’t alone there was a whole bunch of cars that were trying to brave it out thinking it was so close to the finish, if the race just stops, the circuit would come back,” Horner told Sky Sports F1. “Max nailed it and called it right, and obviously was able to make it stick. To come from 20th to P2... I think if you would have offered us that at the beginning of the day we’d have absolutely taken it.”

Today’s result means Verstappen slips to second in the drivers’ championship, just two points shy of Lewis Hamilton.

At two circuits where Mercedes had a clear upper hand, Verstappen only lost a handful of points to Hamilton in the race for the title.

“You can look a hero or zero at the end of it,” Horner added. “It’s a really tough call. Look, Max made a call today and he got it right, Checo decided to stick thinking he might be able to get through it and that was the wrong decision. It could have gone either way.

“Max benefitted massively, Checo lost out significantly. For Max in the drivers’ [championship], the damage limitation is massive, for the constructors’ [championship], obviously, we’ve conceded points.”