The Dutchman managed the race from there on and fended off the two charging Ferraris in the closing laps to secure Red Bull's first win on home soil.
Since then he has finished on the podium at all three races, and in Austria was in superb form to capture his first victory of the campaign.
Perhaps most impressive though was how controlled the 20-year-old's performance was, particularly after a tumultuous start of the year blighted by incidents and criticism for what most saw as an over-impulsive approach to racing.
"We made the right call when virtual safety auto came out and we pitted".
Horner also heaped praise on Verstappen's early charge in the opening lap where he passed the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen into Turn 7 which involved slight contact between the two drivers, a move which ultimately led to the race victory.
When asked if a challenge for the title is realistic, Verstappen told Sky Sports: "Well we never give up like I said".
"The auto came very good but we just ran out of the laps - we took it easy too long", Raikkonen said. "It was a really mature drive because the tyres were so crucial with the blisters and everything that is going on - he just managed to keep those temperatures down and managed it all the way through". "Even if you can put on another 50 milliseconds for the race, you will do it because that might be the difference".
"I needed to catch up in the points", he agreed.
Both their days went from bad to worse in a matter of laps, however, with Ricciardo retiring with a broken gearbox on lap 53 and Hamilton's power unit forcing him to stop 10 tours later.
As his rivals struggled in the warmer than expected conditions, with the likes of his team mate Ricciardo and Hamilton forced to pit because of blistering tyres, Verstappen appeared to have no such problems and was able to manage his beautifully to make a one-stop work.
"I think the vehicle has been quite good today", he said.
Qualifying begins at 2:00p BST Saturday, 30 June, and the race starts at its now traditional time of 2.10p BST. "I was in the lead, I tried to do my own pace".
"A positive day, but it could have been better - but a very well-deserved win for Max".
Two-time champion Fernando Alonso was eighth for McLaren ahead of Monegasque rising star Charles Leclerc and his Sauber teammate Marcus Ericsson.
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