The Singapore Grand Prix witnessed an exciting tactical move by Carlos Sainz that indirectly helped his former team-mate Lando Norris and secured a memorable victory for McLaren.
In a surprising twist, it was Sainz himself who devised the tactic rather than the Ferrari pit wall (no surprises there, just ask Sebastian Vettel), demonstrating some remarkable astute racing instincts. Ferrari Team Principal Fred Vasseur sheds light on this clever idea, which played a pivotal role in the race’s dramatic climax.
Sainz and Norris in close quarters
As the Singapore Grand Prix drew to a close, Carlos Sainz found himself in a precarious situation. He was closely trailed by former McLaren team-mate Lando Norris, with Mercedes’ George Russell and Lewis Hamilton quickly closing the gap.
While the Mercedes duo had fresher tyres, Sainz had to keep them at bay to secure victory.
Sainz’s calculated move
Carlos Sainz recognised the danger posed by the faster Mercedes cars on newer tyres. To outwit his opponents, he devised a plan to exploit the Drag Reduction System (DRS) zones while ensuring that Norris remained in range.
Sainz was deliberately bringing Lando Norris into his DRS range at each detection zone, something not easy to do without potentially losing the lead to the McLaren driver by accident.
By maintaining this delicate balance, he indirectly gave Norris an extra burst of straight-line speed while maintaining his own lead.
Sainz’s skilful driving
The success of Sainz’s strategy became evident when Norris successfully fended off Russell’s advances to secure a second Grand Prix victory for the Spaniard.
After the race, Ferrari Team Principal Fred Vasseur revealed that it was Carlos Sainz himself who came up with this tactical masterstroke.
“It was the idea of Carlos, I don’t want to say it’s of use, but he knew he was more at risk with Mercedes than with Norris,” said Vasseur after the race.
“With Norris we had the same tyres, almost the same pace from the lap one and we were not really at risk with Norris except if we lost the tyres, and it was a clever move from Carlos to keep Norris into the DRS.”
Carlos Sainz’s exceptional form in recent races, particularly after the summer break, has been a highlight of the Formula One season. His top-five finish for Ferrari at Zandvoort, despite a difficult weekend, preceded his stunning pole position at Monza and a well-deserved podium finish.
Sainz’s improved approach
Fred Vasseur attributed Sainz’s resurgence to his consistent performance from the beginning of each race weekend. The Spaniard’s readiness from the start of Free Practice 1 (FP1) and his ability to maintain a high level of performance throughout the weekend have been instrumental in his recent success. Vasseur emphasised that a strong start to the weekend is crucial, especially when tyre allocation is limited.
“The last two weekends Carlos did a very good step forward and probably also into the preparation of the weekend,” Vasseur explained.
“The biggest difference is that he is ready from lap one [in] FP1, Zandvoort was also the same. He didn’t do FP1, we had the rookie FP1, but from lap one FP2 he was there and it’s the best way to prepare the quali.
“If you don’t have so many sets of tyres, it means that if you are starting the weekend a step backwards, clear you have to overshoot the limit and also for the team in terms of preparation, it’s the best approach you can have.
“Today he was under control in the race, he did a mega job, but I think the preparation of the weekend he did a real step forwards.”
Carlos Sainz’s clever DRS strategy in Singapore not only demonstrated his tactical acumen but also his remarkable driving ability.
Ferrari’s resurgence in recent races, driven by Sainz’s stellar performances, is a testament to his dedication and preparation. As the Formula One season continues, Sainz’s proactive approach and strategic brilliance will undoubtedly be key factors in Ferrari’s quest for success.
One must now question, what’s happened to Charles Leclerc?
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