Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says Max Verstappen's recovery drive from the back of the grid to second in the Russian Grand Prix "feels like a victory", as he limited the points lost to title rival Lewis Hamilton.
Verstappen started Sunday's race at the Sochi Autodrom from the back of the grid after taking on his fourth power unit of the season, and steadily worked his way through the field with a strong recovery drive.
He was set for a top-six finish as the race entered its closing stages, but a well-timed switch from slicks to Intermediate tyres when rain began to fall meant he jumped up to second place, directly behind Hamilton.
Despite starting 16 places apart, Verstappen only fell two points behind Hamilton in the standings, and also has the advantage of a fresh power unit in his pool for the remaining races – a move Hamilton has yet to make.
"I think today was like a victory for us, to go from 20th to the grid to P2," Horner told media, including RacingNews365.com.
"I think if anybody would have offered us that prior to the weekend, we would have bitten your arm off.
"To have achieved that, to come away from two Mercedes strongholds [Monza and Sochi], with only a two-point deficit in the Drivers' Championship, is hugely encouraging. It's all to play for."
Horner praised Verstappen for making the right call at the right time when the weather turned.
"Pre-race, probably P5 would have been the absolute optimum," added Horner.
"It was looking a few laps before the end as if we were going to be probably P6.
"Max got the call right to go on to the Inters and it worked out well for him, so to get that P2 [and] get that engine penalty done is more than we could have hoped for going into the weekend."
In our latest RacingNews365.com video, we take a look at how grid penalties could be a crucial factor in the intense title fight between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen