Verstappen was forced to start from the back after taking an entirely new power unit for this weekend’s race.

After making his way through the field up to seventh, Verstappen was one of the first drivers to gamble for intermediates when it rained, elevating him up the order to finish second.

Given that Mercedes has enjoyed a significant performance advantage at Monza and Sochi, Verstappen trails Lewis Hamilton by just two points with seven rounds remaining.

“Today was like a victory for us, to go from 20th on the grid to P2, if you’d have offered that before the weekend I think we’d have bitten your arm off, so to have achieved that, to come away from two Mercedes strongholds with only a two-point deficit in the driver championship is hugely encouraging, seven to go, it’s all to play for,” Horner said after the race.

Horner says Verstappen exceeded expectations with P5 the “absolute optimum” in Red Bull’s pre-race analysis.

“Pre-race probably P5 would have been the absolute optimum, so to have done that would have been optimum, so to come away with P2, as obviously a few laps before the end it looked like probably P6, so Max got the call right to go onto the inters and it worked out well for him, to get P2 and the engine penalty done is more than we could have hoped for going into the window,” he added.