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Max after record-breaking season: 'Team spirit will stay with me most'

Published on 26 November 2023 by Misha van der Kroon

Max Verstappen ended his third championship year in glorious fashion by winning the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for the fourth time in a row. During the race, Max achieved another milestone by leading a thousand laps in one season.

In the press conference after the race, Max said that he was indeed aware of this milestone: “I knew it was on the cards, so we tried with our strategy to plan it in a way that I wouldn’t have to pit too early. We achieved that. It was maybe not the fastest strategy, but I wanted to stay in the lead to get the laps in.” During the race, Max said over the on-board radio that he didn’t mind staying out a bit longer, and that his teammate Sergio Perez could pit before him. This was also part of the strategy to stay in the lead: “I know that GP (Gianpiero Lambiase, Max’s race engineer) also was aware of the thousand laps in the lead, but I said it to be sure that they wouldn’t pit me too early.”

Even after securing his third championship title in Qatar, Max won all the remaining races. Verstappen did not intend to slow down a bit at the end of the season: “It’s just how I grew up,” the Dutchman explains. “I can’t just come into a weekend and not give it my all. My mindset didn’t change after winning the championship. I come to a race weekend, and I of course try to do the best I can. It’s nice, winning is great, why would I not want to win? When you have the opportunity to win, I’ll always try to do the best I can, also for the team. When you have such a good car, you want to try to extend certain records and do well.”

While Max did set a record last year with fifteen victories in a season, he far exceeded that this year by achieving a total of nineteen victories. According to Max, this improvement was due to several factors: “I think in general the car was better than last year. And we were very solid, and had no retirements or real issues on the car, which is a big key to the overall success. For myself, I try to do better every year. I’m getting more experience, and try to put the weekend together a bit more. Some weekends that worked better than others. I try to not make too many mistakes, not to get too much damage to the car with the cost cap, and I think it worked quite well.”

When asked what Max will remember most about this season, he says: “I think the team spirit. The wins are great of course, but it’s very important to have a good atmosphere in the team, and have a lot of fun. The people you work with are very important. There are a lot of smart people in the team, and I know that whatever you do in motorsport, there’s nothing better than a good cooperation with the people around you. To see everyone at work, trying to do the best they can everyday, and give it all for you, is really nice to see.”