Racing from 16th to third in the last 16 laps of a rain-soaked Brazilian GP, Christian Horner reckons Max Verstappen was in a “league of his own” on Sunday.
Verstappen was without a doubt the Driver of the Day at the Interlagos circuit as he was best of the rest behind the Mercedes, and much more entertaining.
Having taken second off Rosberg, Verstappen almost threw it away when he touched a slippery white line. But instead of hitting the Armco barrier, he spun, he slid and he twitched and he recovered – and he was still in second.
He did, however, fall down the order after Red Bull switched him to inters only for the rain to come down heavier, forcing them into another stop for full wets.
That dropped him to P16 with 16 laps remaining but he immediately began to scythed his way through the field and with two to go overtook Sergio Perez to finish on the podium.
“They don’t get much better than that,” Horner told Autosport.
“The conditions were tricky all afternoon, but once the race got underway he quickly moved past Kimi, a very decisive move into Turn 1, and you could see from that point he meant business.
“At the next restart there was a fairly audacious move on Nico around the outside of Turn 3 – that was really just the start of things to come.
“After the [first] restart it looked like the intermediate tyres were the tyre to be on – we’ve seen so many times once you generate a bit of heat in them they are much quicker.
“We elected to put Daniel [Ricciardo] on them initially, and immediately he started setting purple sectors, went second quickest out of anybody on track, which prompted us to take the risk and go for the change with Max.
“Unfortunately the rain intensified very slightly, just enough to make the final sector pretty tricky.
“After another Safety Car we had the difficult decision to make to sacrifice track position versus going on to the safer tyre.
“After discussing with Max we decided to go on to the extreme, and it was really all over to him for those final 16 laps.”
The Red Bull team boss hailed his driver’s “incredible” racing in the wet as he carved his way through to the field.
Horner added: “He drove an incredible race, losing very little time in each of the passing moves he made.
“To be able to finish the grand prix in third demonstrated what a great talent he is. Max was in a league of his own today.”