Verstappen dropped to 14th after pitting late for wet tyres - his fifth stop of the race, while the leaders made two - but then surged forward in almost irresistible fashion, gaining an incredible 11 places in the closing 16 laps.
"At the end when I crossed the line it felt like a victory - it was almost as beautiful as the race I had in Barcelona," the 19-year-old Dutchman reflected after his swashbuckling drive.
"I got the call to box [for intermediate tyres on lap 43] because Daniel Ricciardo was on inters and going a second faster - so we did it and the first lap was pretty good.
"But then it started to rain harder and the last sector became just undriveable, so we had to pit again - and then I started passing people.
"It was difficult, I couldn't see where I was going with the spray, but I managed to pass a lot of people. And to come back onto the podium is a great result.”
While he admitted second might have been achievable without as many visits to the pit lane, Verstappen insisted Red Bull were right to take a chance on an early stop for inters - and that his subsequent charge made up for any potential disappointment.
"Maybe the win wasn't possible, but I think second was maybe,” he said. “But sometimes you have to gamble to win and that'd what we tried today. It didn't work out, but I'm still on the podium with some great overtakes, so I'm a happy person."
Verstappen had signalled his intent early on when he passed Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and then Mercedes' championship leader Nico Rosberg to move into second, but then very nearly undid all his good work when he half spun at Turn 14, somehow managing to not only keep it out of the barriers but also retain second on the road.
"In the first one I was trying some different lines and found one, and I knew if Kimi didn't take it I had a good chance of overtaking him," Verstappen commented. "I pulled out of the spray and just passed on the inside.
"I had good pace - I could follow the guys in front, and I had a good fight with Nico at Turn 3. After that I was trying to follow Lewis and had a massive moment at the last corner – I was very lucky not to hit the guardrail!"
Verstappen’s podium was his seventh of the season and helped earn him the fan-voted Driver of the Day Award for the eighth time in 2016.
WATCH: Max Verstappen on his incredible drive at Interlagos
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