BRILLIANT PERFORMANCE: Max Verstappen has been in scintillating form since moving to Red Bull from junior team Toro Rosso. Image: AP / Olivier Matthys
Sao Paulo - Max Verstappen earned comparisons to Formula One's greatest champions after his spectacular charge through the field to finish on the podium in Sunday's (November 13) rain-hit Brazilian Grand Prix.
The Dutch teenager was likened to racers who became renowned for their sublime skills in wet conditions such as Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton, who won the race.
'We saw something very, very special'
Nico Rosberg also impressed as he held steady to come second and the German will be crowned world champion with a podium finish in Abu Dhabi on November 27 as the season goes down to the wire.
Despite the Sao Paulo heroics of the Mercedes pair, plaudits instead rained down on the 19-year-old Red Bull ace.
Red Bull team chief Christian Horner said: "Well, they don't get much better than that, I think what we witnessed was something very special."
He said: "You have to compare it to the great moments.
"You don't often witness a motor race like that and I think what we saw was something very, very special."
Verstappen was 16th after a late pit-stop but then roared back to third in a drive that turned the Interlagos crowd's mood from carping misery to thrilled appreciation.
The fans who had booed and signalled with their thumbs down when the race was paused for a second red flag, ended the three-hour contest drenched but thrilled by the flawless performance of Hamilton and the brilliance of Verstappen.
The signs had been there early on as the young Belgian recovered from a high-speed spin on his approach to the straight and narrowly avoided a collision with the wall.
Watch: Verstappen's amazing piece of driving skill
He would later claim his instinctive piece of skill had increased his heartbeat, but provoked a different reaction from the pit.
Horner said:"It almost necessitated an underwear change for most of us on the pit wall.
"But, again, he was extremely calm in the way he came on the radio... All afternoon, he seemed in control apart from that moment."
Verstappen's remarkable drive came just days after Horner had criticised rival Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff for telephoning his father Jos Verstappen, suggesting that he request the teenager take great care not to become entangled in the duel for the drivers' crown between the two Mercedes men.
Verstappen himself, displaying the maturity of a man twice his age, took the plaudits for his performance in his stride.
The teenager said: "For a lap or so, it was really good on the intermediate tyres, but then more rain came which resulted in no grip in the final sector.
There was no way I could carry on like that so I had to pit again for the wets."
"From then on, the race was really good fun with plenty of overtakes around the outside because if you stay behind them there's too much spray. I had to find another line.
"I just kept my head down and managed to get past quite a few cars in the remaining laps. I could hear the crowd going crazy when my engineer was on the radio so I am thankful for the Brazilian fans betting behind me.
"At the end when I crossed the line it felt like a victory. It was almost as beautiful as my race in Barcelona!"
As it was, Wolff was left with no complaints as Hamilton led Rosberg home in another one-two for Mercedes that ensured the battle for the drivers' title race will go down to the wire at the final race in Abu Dhabi later at the end of November.