Hamilton was forced to start last despite taking pole position for the sprint race after the FIA found an issue with the DRS on his Mercedes W12.

The seven-time champion put in a spectacular performance during the 24-lap sprint, cutting his way through to the field to finish fifth.

Even though Hamilton will only start from 10th on the grid after serving his five-place grid penalty for an engine change, Horner believes Hamilton will still be a serious contender for the race victory.

“I mean look with Lewis’ pace that he had today, he can win this race tomorrow,” Horner said. “It will be very hard to defend against him with that kind of pace. We’ve got to get our head down, do the best job we can and go from there.

“We can only control what we do. We’re going to go for it and we’re on the front row. We’ve got those two points today that are vital.”

Horner admitted he wasn’t surprised by how easy it was for Hamilton to progress through the field given his 0.4s advantage over Max Verstappen in Friday’s qualifying session.

“Well to be honest it’s no real surprise because we saw it yesterday. Lewis’ straight-line speed is just mind-boggling,” he added. “For us, I think losing the start, they took the gamble on the soft tyres, we obviously started on the medium and had a bit of an issue with the gear sync [with Verstappen].

“Still front row here, two more points. We will take that and it’s a different race tomorrow, much hotter.”

Verstappen now sits 21 points clear of Hamilton going into the Sao Paulo Grand Prix having picked up two points for finishing second behind Valtteri Bottas in the sprint.