Ferrari’s team principal, Fred Vasseur, attributes Carlos Sainz’s exceptional strategic driving in the final laps of the 2023 Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix to the Spaniard himself.
During the thrilling race at Marina Bay’s closing stages, Sainz made a daring decision. He allowed the second-place driver, Lando Norris, to close the gap behind him, granting Norris the advantage of DRS (Drag Reduction System).
Consequently, Lando Norris successfully maintained his position ahead of the Mercedes drivers, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes cars were running on faster medium compound tires compared to the hard rubber on the Ferrari and McLaren. Although Carlos Sainz’s plan involved some risk, it worked perfectly, enabling Lando Norris to secure his podium spot while defending against Russell until the last lap when the Mercedes driver hit the wall at Turn 10.
While the Ferrari pitwall had managed most of the race, including instructing Charles Leclerc to slow down the pack to help Carlos Sainz preserve his tires until he needed to push, the Spaniard’s late-event master plan was entirely his own idea. Fred Vasseur, the Maranello team’s boss, acknowledged, “It was Carlos’s concept.”
“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.”
The Ferrari driver pointed out that his idea to allow Lando Norris to remain in DRS range behind him was a clear one as far as the Spaniard was concerned:
“I didn’t need the team to suggest it, I knew my pace more or less to Lando, I knew how difficult it is to overtake here. I knew he was on a hard, I knew if George and Lewis were passing him I was probably going to be dead meat also, so I needed him to hold on as long as possible. I slowed down just a bit to give him DRS into Turn 7 to hold them off and keep my race under control. Not easy as you are putting yourself under risk and you cannot do any mistakes, but it was my strategy and it worked and I’m glad it did.” – he added.
Carlos Sainz found it especially rewarding that he could collaborate on his strategy with Lanado Norris, his previous teammate at McLaren: “I think we should buy each other drinks, by giving him DRS I saved his P2 and by him defending as well as he did from Russell he helped me to get P1,” the Spaniard pointed out said with a broad smile. – “Good ‘Carlando’ moments out there and it was nice honestly to get the podium with him, we have a great relationship and it was good also to see the McLaren guys there with Ferrari, good story.” – the Ferrari driver concluded at the end of the 2023 F1 Singapore Grand Prix.