Carlos Sainz has hailed the performance of Ferrari at the Singapore GP as he held off a robust challenge from McLaren and Mercedes to take his second victory in F1.
Sainz deftly managed the race from the front in the early stages from pole position and was able to tactically outmanoeuvre both Lando Norris and the chasing Mercedes’ of George Russell.
The Spaniard looked to be in trouble in the final laps of the race as Russell and Lewis Hamilton closed the gap after pitting for fresh medium tyres under a late VSC, but he managed to use the DRS of Norris’ McLaren to good effect and back him up into the Mercedes.
That gave him just enough breathing room to hold on for the first victory by a non-Red Bull car this year to cap off a stellar weekend for Ferrari at Marina Bay.
“We have to be extremely proud of the weekend that we put together. We’ve had one opportunity this year to win the race, which was here in Singapore, and we nailed it,” Sainz told media after the race.
“We didn’t put a foot wrong all weekend and yeah, there were a lot of moments out there that we were under a bit under pressure, and we kept it calm.
“We kept our plan, our strategy. We had to play with our degradation with pitstops gaps with the DRS and playing with all that and managing to keep everything under control. We managed to bring home a win that was never easy, but it definitely feels incredible.
Sainz deliberately managed his pace throughout the first three quarters of the race to keep his tyres fresh and ready to fend off any potential attacks, but when the challenge of Mercedes came he said he was forced to think on his feet to keep hold of first place.
“At the beginning, I was not so nervous because I felt like I had a lot of pace in hand to push the last 12, 15 laps. But immediately I felt like as soon as I started pushing, my tyre degradation started to kick in. And I think Lando and I were sliding a lot,” Sainz said.
“Then it surprised me quite a lot how quickly the Mercs managed to pass Charles and close the gap on Lando and me. And at that point, I thought, okay, it’s not going to be easy, and those last five, six laps, it’s going to be a fight.
“And at that point obviously I had to change a bit the strategy, I had to give Lando a bit of a cheeky DRS boost, and that helped us to keep them behind and…get the win for Ferrari.”