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Formula 1 Singapore GP

Ferrari: Sainz gets full credit for Norris DRS tactic in F1 Singapore GP

Ferrari has said Carlos Sainz’s tactic in slowing down deliberately to keep Lando Norris within DRS range in Formula 1’s Singapore Grand Prix was entirely the Spaniard’s idea.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Sainz’s charge to a brilliant victory in Singapore on Sunday was helped by some clever driving, which included ensuring second-placed Norris was within DRS range in the closing stages so the McLaren driver could help keep the charging Mercedes cars at bay.

At one stage, after Norris had lost ground after playing defensive against George Russell, Sainz even had to back off dramatically to get the pursuing McLaren back on his tail.

His plan came off perfectly as Russell could not find a way past Norris, before his last-lap error in clipping the wall put him out of the race.

While Ferrari had helped tactically manage much of the Singapore GP, which included backing up the pack and trying to avoid the undercut by using Charles Leclerc as a buffer, it said Sainz’s late-race DRS calls were his own.

PLUS: The Singapore secrets that helped Sainz end Verstappen's F1 winning streak

“It was the idea of Carlos,” said team principal Fred Vasseur. “I don't want to say it's obvious, but he knew he was more at risk with Mercedes than with Norris.

“With Norris we had the same tyres, and almost the same pace from the lap one. We were not really at risk with Norris except if we lost the tyres, so it was a clever move from Carlos to keep Norris into the DRS.”

Sainz himself said there was no doubt that he would have lost the win if either of the Mercedes cars, on fresh medium tyres at that stage of the race, had got past Norris.

“It's always tricky because you always put yourself under extra pressure,” he explained.

Press Conference with Lando Norris, McLaren Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG

Press Conference with Lando Norris, McLaren Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG

Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

“You know that then you cannot have a lock-up and you cannot have a single mistake or a snap, because it means that then Lando’s going to have a chance to overtake you if he's in DRS. So, at that point you decide to give him the DRS, hoping that's going to be enough to keep the Mercs behind.

“There was in particular one lap that I think Lando defended into Turn 16-17, and then I had to slow down a lot into Turn 1-2-3 to give him DRS again. I think that move actually saved my race, saved also Lando’s P2, because I feel like if not I would have been also dead meat.

“If the Mercs would have passed Lando, I think they could have got past me pretty easily.”

Sainz summer meeting

Sainz’s second F1 victory comes after an impressive uptick in form since the summer break – which has included pole positions in Italy and Singapore.

Reflecting on what has changed, Sainz believes that a meeting with his engineers in August was critical to helping them focus on exactly what was needed to extract more from the SF-23.

“In terms of car and driving understanding, I think before the summer break there was this already decent feeling with everything,” he said.

“I just sat down with my engineers in the summer break, and we said: ‘okay, what can we do to start putting the whole weekend together, because clearly we have a lot of pace, we were doing some good things but we are never putting the whole thing together.’

“[We thought] let's see what we can do to improve that and start having consistent performances in the second half, because the potential is clearly there this year.

“Zandvoort was a very good weekend. Monza was almost perfect and here I feel like it was the perfect one.

“Makes me very happy and proud that when you work, you analyse, and you also have the speed like I've had this weekend, it is always paying off.”

Lando Norris, McLaren, 2nd position, Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, 1st position, Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, 3rd position, on the podium

Lando Norris, McLaren, 2nd position, Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, 1st position, Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes-AMG, 3rd position, on the podium

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Vasseur thinks the way Sainz has hit the ground running with the car set-up in the last two weekends has been key to its improved weekends.

“The biggest difference is that he is ready from lap one of FP1,” he said. “Zandvoort was also the same – although he didn't do FP1 [at the Dutch GP] 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, it is clear you have to overshoot the limit.

“And also, for the team, in terms of preparation, it's the best approach you can have.”

 

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