Max Verstappen says Red Bull built in the target of reaching 1,000 laps led in a season into his race-winning Abu Dhabi Grand Prix strategy.
Verstappen had led 951 laps – already a record – heading into the 58-lap finale at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Verstappen briefly relinquished the lead to the off-set one-stopping Yuki Tsunoda but swiftly returned to the front of the field and surpassed the 1,000 laps led milestone in the closing stages.
Verstappen went on to lead 1,003 laps in 2023 as he comfortably capped his dominant campaign with a straightforward 19th win.
“Well I knew it was on the cards going into the race,” said Verstappen.
“And also from the engineering side with the strategy, we wanted to of course try and plan it in a way that wouldn’t pit too early, so just wait for others to pit.
“Of course to try and achieve that was maybe not always the fastest strategy, but I wanted to stay in the lead to get the laps in.”
Verstappen went on to praise Red Bull’s team ethos during a year in which it was only defeated once.
“I think just the team spirit,” said Verstappen on what he’d remember most from 2023. “Not so much the wins or whatever, poles or laps led, I think just the enjoyment we had as a team.
“The wins are great, of course, but I think it’s very important to have a good atmosphere in the team and have a lot of fun.
“And just the people that you work with, there’s a lot of smart people in the team. I also know that whatever you do in motor racing, I think it never will top that. So just seeing everyone at work, trying to do the best they can every day, and give it all out there for you, that’s really nice to see.”