Verstappen avoided best race strategy to achieve ‘1,000 laps led’ record

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Max Verstappen said he planned his Abu Dhabi Grand Prix strategy around achieving a new record by leading 1,000 laps of grands prix in a single season.

The Red Bull driver achieved the record late in the final race of the season. Race engineer Gianpiero Lambiase told him “‘mission A’ complete” when he hit the milestone.

Verstappen led the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from pole position until pitting on lap 16. But he regained the lead just six laps later and stayed there for the rest of the race, claiming the record with three laps to go.

“I knew it was on the cards going into the race,” said Verstappen. “From the engineering side with the strategy, we wanted to try and plan it in a way that I wouldn’t pit too early.”

He admitted the strategy he used wasn’t the best available, but was one that maximised his time in the lead. “We just waited for others to pit. Of course, to try and achieve that it was maybe not always the fastest strategy. But I wanted to stay in the lead to get the laps in.”

At one stage in the race Verstappen told his they should pit his team mate Sergio Perez before him. Verstappen delayed his final pit stop until lap 43 of 58.

“It was to try and lead for 1,000 laps in the season,” he said. “I knew that was on the cards.”

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Lambiase “was also aware of that, so [it was] just to make sure that they wouldn’t pit me too early,” Verstappen continued. “The tyres still felt okay. They were not fantastic but they felt okay at that point so we just kept on extending a little bit.”

Verstappen ended the year having led 1,003 of the 1,325 laps that made up this year’s 22 grands prix. Including the 74 laps he led in sprint races, he became the first driver to lead 1,000 laps in a Formula 1 season of lap four of the preceding Las Vegas Grand Prix.

The record for most laps led in a season was previously held by Sebastian Vettel, who led 739 during his second title-winning campaign with Red Bull in the 19-round 2011 season. Verstappen surpassed that figure during round 18 of this year in the United States Grand Prix sprint race.

Having dominated the 2023 season and won the championship with six grands prix to spare, Verstappen said the extra achievement of setting a new record helped keep his motivation up.

“Winning is great,” he said. “Why would I not want to win when you have the opportunity to win? When I see that there is of course the opportunity to win, I will always try to do the best I can and also for the team. When you have such a good car, you want to try and extend certain records and do well.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said Verstappen has raised his performance to a new level this year.

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“The standard that we’ve been able to hit to win 21 out of 22 [grands prix], to have led with Max over a thousand laps out of 1,300 or so, to have broken so many records: I think he’s hit yet another level,” said Horner.

“We almost didn’t need the strategist today because he seemed to be doing the strategy for both of the cars. But as a strategist, as she pointed out to me, he is considerably more expensive than she is. His capacity within the car is quite outstanding.”

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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26 comments on “Verstappen avoided best race strategy to achieve ‘1,000 laps led’ record”

  1. Three laps out of four led by not just a Red Bull, but by a single man. Can be very annoying, like that friend you’re trying to beat at Karting but he’s so good he spends time “trying things” while you give it all and still fail.

  2. How many times has Verstappen said he’s not interested in records?
    Clearly – even if he isn’t, his team still is.

    1. You got it, he is a hypocrite and liar.

      1. As he stated, it was a way to keep his motivation alive. Just like the 8th for Lewis is keeping him motivated to try his best.
        The first way to motivate yourself is beating your teammate, second is winning everything and an egg, and once that is done, you need to invent new ways to keep a bit of challenge. Starting last at carting, and trying to win, driving with a handicap… Whatever works for you

      2. Which says nothing about Max and a lot about yourself

      3. ILoveConspiracyTheories
        28th November 2023, 11:23

        He isn’t in it for the records, he is in for the wins but when a record comes along then he will take it.
        He isn’t looking for the most wins or the longest win-streak but if he has a good start next season and he can extend the streak to 11 then he will surely try because he wants to win each time he is out there but if he doesn’t succeed he doesn’t loose sleep over it. Also the same with most wins. He isn’t there to break the record of Schumacher or Hamilton but when the numbers comes up then of course he will try to get it. He isn’t hung up on a eight WDC. He hasn’t cried about not being the youngest WDC (Helmut might have :-) ).

        If the FIA/FOM (or whoever is in charge of that) changes the format to 23 sprint races and only 10 of those will have a main race and they throw the glamour and glitter presentations from LV in each weekend then he will leave within a heartbeat and not cry on potentially missed records. Again, he isn’t in it for those records and that is what he means when he says he doesn’t care about records. They come by itself when he keeps on winning.

        I think Hulkenberg and Norris have a record to their name which they probably don’t care about as well and probably will try harder to get rid of then Verstappen is trying to get a new record ;-)

    2. I think it isn’t about the fact he set a record, but he sets something as a goal to push yourself. In the same way that I as a goalkeeper will be focussed on keeping a clean sheet even if we’re 5-0 up. Conceding that goal wouldn’t endanger the win we are going to get, but by focussing on that clean sheet I can motivate myself as if it does endanger the win.

  3. Going suboptimal for lulz and records. If that isn’t a slap in the face of the competition I don’t know what is.

  4. We will look back and laugh at he not only decimated the opposition, but routinely dunked on them to just to make a point! Pulling out a gap just to make a last-lap pit stop and grab fastest lap was also a funny one.

  5. Watching F1 from the 1970ies and being Dutch it is good to watch this driver against the rest of the field. Playing with them whenever and how he wants. I just am seeing another one dominate the circus after so many others did in their periods of racing. But still this is something different. Smashing about every record made by so many different drivers in F1, that is amazing and I am glad to witness it.

    1. @pietkoster interesting because Verstappen is up there with Putin at our household and I’m probably the person that dislikes him the least in my family.

      Generally speaking, we like all athletes but there’s no way we can ever like Verstappen.

      We have started disliking Tsitsipas for his behavior towards his father and others although we are almost required to love him based on his nationality.

      I don’t think Verstappen is entirely to blame for being so widely disliked. He shares the blame with the FIA and Red Bull.

      One-third of the blame goes to the FIA and the stewards which have made a mockery of the sport any time Verstappen is involved in an incident.
      One-third of the blame goes to Red Bull for the whole budget thing and having major issues with drivers who can win with Toro Rossos or Racing Point cars but have immense trouble getting on a podium with the fastest F1 car ever made or even starting the race (poor Webber). They go out of their way to limit the intra-team competition.
      And one-third of the blame goes to Max for his shenanigans on track and his ridiculous statements after he makes a mistake. If he was a better competitor and drove better under pressure, people may not have minded him as much.

      Don’t get me wrong – I love Dutch soccer and the Dutch athletes are absolutely amazing in the Winter Olympics especially skating. You have amazing sporting talent for a relatively small nation.

      I totally understand why you and the Dutch folks like him, though and I don’t mean to offend by writing this. It’s just a counterpoint from other people’s perspectives. He’s a very polarizing individual who’s beloved in his country and probably the most disliked F1 driver and of all time.

      1. There was an international survey on driver popularity in 2021;

        “On the driver front, Max Verstappen came out on top with 14.4% of the vote. The Dutch audience hasn’t appeared decisive here, with a strong following internationally – especially in USA and Japan. Lando Norris was second with 13.7% but was the highest ranked among the female audience and number one in all age groups under 24. Lewis Hamilton was number one in the UK and all the 35 and over age groups and second in the US but ranked third overall.”

        Of course this can be argued. But least populaire of all time seems a stretch.

        1. There was an international survey on driver popularity in 2021;

          In 2021, really?

          Did that survey count towards Red Bull’s budget? Maybe they spent a lot more than we know :-)

          Just check Lewis Hamilton’s and Max Verstappen’s social accounts. Like you said Max is younger and appeals to younger people and social media is geared towards younger populations so you can amplify the difference for the >30yo population who don’t subscribe as much as to folks on Instagram or Facebook.

      2. Although personal to you and perhaps it makes sense to you (and fair play to that), I find this utterly nonsensical @freelittlebirds

  6. Verstappen is up there with Putin

    Even if this is meant as a joke this remark is Verstappen is despicable, disrespectful and insulting, and not for Verstappen, because i’m pretty sure he doesn’t care.

    1. Yeah his comment was rubbish for sure. I couldn’t believe what I was reading but I guess opinions are like those little things from where human waste comes out. Everyone has them.

      1. @thedoctor03 well, if you qualified it as rubbish then surely it has to be :-)

      2. Apparently the original comment was deleted. cannot find it.

        This website would be a lot less fun without the Brigade and their hopeless devotion for the Senescent Tortoise and their blind rage against the one who demoted it.

    2. @tobikomu well, that’s your opinion. For me, Max has earned that with his behavior on and off the track. I’m not basing it on any personal preference or anything like that.

      As I stated, I like almost all athletes including people like Zlatan, Cristiano, and Alonso who are authentically and unabashedly immodest as a top athlete has the right to be.

      1. Well let me tell you for me Lewis Hamilton is up there with Hitler at our household and I’m probably the person that dislikes him the least in my family.

        Let’s see how the reactions are.

        1. @tobikomu I would find it laughable because the two have nothing in common. The fact that you didn’t find it laughable is probably why the overwhelming majority of F1 fans have good reason to dislike Max.

          As I said Max is not the only one to blame but he certainly does nothing to mitigate the reasons and adds to them.

          1. The fact that you find this and your own comparison laughable is telling. Your lack of … well really your lack of a brain is leaving me speechless.
            Your family must be a joy too, Merry Christmas
            Don’t feel the need to respond, I’m signing out, this site didn’t have much to offer before today and it didn’t get any better today.

          2. @tobikomu no worries, see you tomorrow!

          3. @tobikomu

            Your lack of … well really your lack of a brain is leaving me speechless.

            That’s a great insult… Just so you know, I almost never question anyone’s intelligence in my life because that’s all I would be doing. I envy the fact that you have the luxury to question some people’s intelligence.

            Here’s something that might surprise you and one you might want to share with your peers – how I wish you were right…

        2. Please do not insult Adolph like that

          1. ILoveConspiracyTheories
            28th November 2023, 11:37

            @melanos, OUCH, that is hard man.

            (Wanted to say “comment of the day” but I think that is going over the line as well so I stick with my first sentence.)

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