Lando Norris has praised Carlos Sainz’s late-race tactics after securing second place in Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix.
Following Esteban Ocon’s retirement courtesy of a gearbox failure on Lap 43, Mercedes pitted George Russell and Lewis Hamilton for fresh tyres, allowing them to reel in Sainz and Norris, who stayed out.
The former McLaren teammates worked together to hold both charging Mercedes at bay by using the DRS to their advantage, with Norris holding onto second, securing his podium since Hungary.
“It was protecting P2,” said Norris when the media asked where his focus was in the final laps. “George struggled to overtake me when he had a five or six-tenths advantage.
“So the chances of me getting Carlos with maybe one-tenth advantage, there [was] no chance, so I think Carlos played it smart. There was no need for me to try and attack him.
“The more I attacked him, the more vulnerable I would have been from both the guys behind, and I wouldn’t be sitting here if I played it differently, so [it was a] stressful last few laps.
“The last lap, I hit the wall where George also hit the wall, but I hit it with the front, so I panicked a bit it damaged the steering in terms of it being just off-centre, but luckily, it wasn’t anything more than that.”
No need to stop under VSC
Although Norris and Sainz could work together during the closing stages to fend off the Mercedes attack, tyre management became crucial in deciding the podium.
Russell had the advantage of fresh rubber but could not get by Norris, costing himself a chance of victory and a podium after hitting the wall on the final lap.
“Nope. If it went to safety car, we would have boxed, but [under] VSC, no,” said Norris. “I think on paper, if there was no traffic, the Mercedes’ have to overtake their strategy was way faster.
“You know, if we weren’t in a way, they would have been ten seconds ahead of us quite easily, but there’s always the task of overtaking, which in Singapore is one of the hardest tasks.
“Especially at the end with a couple of those attacks from George. I think he just put his tyres a little bit over the edge, and he didn’t attack me as much after that,
“We had a perfect pitstop to get out of Charles, a perfect strategy to get out of the Mercedes as well. So the team did an excellent job today.”