The Red Bull driver was in third place with Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas seemingly heading for a comfortable one-two when he decided to go for the fastest lap bonus point on fresh tyres.
Bottas then suffered a puncture on the penultimate lap that dropped him to 11th while championship leader Hamilton hung on to win after his front left tyre went on the last lap.
Verstappen was too far behind to make up the distance, closing from 31 seconds to five at the finish.
"I know everyone is asking whether we should not have pitted for the soft tyre because we could have won but could have, would have, should have. You can always ask these questions with hindsight," said the Dutch 22-year-old, who finished second.
"I don’t regret anything and I believe we made the right decision to pit for fastest lap at the end. We did the right thing and who knows if I would also have got a puncture.
"At the end of the day Mercedes deserved to win as they were faster than us, some people are saying Lewis was lucky but he was actually unlucky to get the puncture in the first place and so was Bottas."
Until the punctures, Verstappen's afternoon had been low on excitement.
So lonely was his race behind the two Mercedes that he reversed roles for fun and reminded his race engineer to remember to stay hydrated.
"Other than that I was just counting sheep," he said.