Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz has revealed the key to victory in Sunday’s 2023 Singapore Grand Prix, and a tactic which also aided Lando Norris in keeping second place for McLaren.
After the virtual safety car (VSC) period ended, Sainz and Norris were chased by the charging Mercedes pair of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, who had stopped under the VSC for fresh tyres on Lap 43.
To stop both Mercedes‘ from going on to take an almost certain win, Sainz allowed Norris back into DRS range, forcing Russell to damage his tyres, and give the pair a gap large enough to hold onto first and second positions.
“It’s always tricky because you always put yourself under extra pressure,” said Sainz to the media when asked how he kept Norris back. “Because then you cannot have a single mistake.
“Because it means that Lando will have a chance to overtake you if he’s on DRS. So you decide to give him the DRS, hoping that that’s going to be enough to keep the Mercedes behind.
“There was one particular lap that I think Lando defended into [Turn] 16-17, and then I had to slow down a lot in Turn 1-2-3 to give him DRS again.
“I think that move actually saved my race and Lando’s, too. If the Mercs had got past Lando, I would have been also dead meat. They could have gone past me pretty pretty easily.”
Proud of his team after a difficult season
Sainz‘s impressive victory in Singapore was his first since the 2022 British GP and also helped Ferrari end Red Bull’s 100% win record in the 2023 F1 season.
Until the Italian GP, where Sainz secured a famous pole position, Ferrari had struggled to challenge Red Bull, with the team admitting they would change car concept for 2024 at the Dutch GP.
“I’m incredibly proud of the effort that the team has done to bring a better high downforce package here,” said Sainz. “I still think there’s going to be tough weekends out there.
“Where we’re not going to be fighting for podiums, and we’re going to get P5s, P6. We just need to make sure we keep getting those if that’s the maximum the car can do.
“What I’m more proud of is that we had one chance to win this year, and the team under pressure responded.
“I also responded, and we managed to put together a perfect weekend in the one chance that Red Bull gave us. This speaks well of the progress that Ferrari is doing in terms of race execution.”