Max Verstappen had the 1,000 laps on his mind in F1 Abu Dhabi GP, as he and Charles Leclerc talk about Lap 1 situation.
While Red Bull’s Verstappen is not too keen on records but in F1 Abu Dhabi GP, he had one on the back of his mind. One that was not much talked about of him leading more than 1,000 laps in a season where he became the first driver in history to do so.
He broke Sebastian Vettel’s record from 2011 of 739 laps led already in Qatar and since then on, he has pushed himself to be the first to go beyond the four figure mark to set a new record of 1,003 laps – which was the total number of laps McLaren led in 1988.
Post-race, Verstappen stated about going for the record when he asked his race engineer to pit Sergio Perez if needed before him as he wanted to go a bit more in his stint. “I knew it was on the cards, of course, going into the race,” he said. “And also, from the engineering side with the strategy, we wanted to, of course, try and plan it in a way that I wouldn’t pit too early. So, just wait for others to pit.
“Of course, to try and achieve that it was maybe not always the, let’s say, the fastest strategy. But I wanted to stay in the lead, of course to get the laps in. And the radio about Sergio, it was to try and lead for 1,000 laps in the season. I knew that was on the cards. So I said to GP… he was also of course aware of that, so just to make sure that they wouldn’t pit me too early as I said above.
“The tyres still felt OK. They were not fantastic but they felt OK at that point so we just kept on extending a little bit,” summed up Verstappen, who also created a new record of 19 wins in a season after making a good start against Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
The Monegasque tried to pass him couple of times which Verstappen found to be a good move from his end, but the Dutchman knew that Leclerc would be mindful. “It was good,” he said. “I think. Yeah, we raced well. I didn’t expect Charles to go on the left into Turn 6 but it was a good move.
“But I think at the same time, of course, Charles also had to think about the Championship, you know, for the team. So yeah, it was good. I enjoyed that,” summed up Verstappen, as Leclerc echoed the Dutchman about being cautious in the sense that he had to think about his own race and battle against Mercedes.
“It was nice,” said Leclerc. “On the other hand, obviously I had, in my mind, the Constructors’ Championship, so I couldn’t take too many risks. But as I said, I saw an opportunity, I saw that Max was looking in the mirrors where I was expecting him to look in the mirror, so I made him think that I was going to the right, then I went to the left.
“And then I tried also in Turn 9 but I knew that it was important for me to take care of those tyres, and even in the first lap, everything is so sensitive here that even if you push too much in the first lap then this can have a huge consequence on the rest of your run. So, at one point I just decided to settle for the second place, which anyway if we will have got that first place, I don’t think we’ll have kept that for long.”
Here’s how F1 Abu Dhabi GP panned out
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