Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner described Max Verstappen’s result in Russia as “like a victory” after he recovered from the back to the podium.
Verstappen was relegated to the rear of the grid after Red Bull opted to equip his RB16B with a fresh Honda power unit.
Verstappen recovered into the points but had been set to finish sixth until a band of showers drifted across Sochi Autodrom in the closing stages.
Verstappen ducked into the pits for Intermediates and profited, surging to second, behind only title rival Lewis Hamilton.
“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,” said Horner.
“To have achieved that, to come away from two Mercedes strongholds with only a two point deficit in the Drivers’ championship is hugely encouraging, seven [races] to go, it’s all to play for.”
While Verstappen rose from sixth to second, team-mate Sergio Perez had a likely podium finish slip through his grasp after staying out on slicks.
“It just shows that it is not over until the chequered flag falls,” said Horner.
“Max, when you look at the progress he has made compared to the other back row starters, was really impressive.
“We maximised our chances when the rain did come, Checo rolled the dice and wanted to stay out as other drivers did, and from a team point of view that was splitting our options.
“Max benefited from making that call to pit and unfortunately Checo paid the penalty by asking to stick.
“It’s always easy with hindsight but obviously very difficult at that moment in time but it was a great call by Max and it paid off.”