Scuderia Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur commended Carlos Sainz for leading the team to adopt an alternative strategy aimed at outperforming at least one of the Mercedes cars in the Japanese Grand Prix, which took place on Sunday at the 5.807-kilometre Suzuka International Racing Course.
In a race at Suzuka with significant tire wear, Lewis Hamilton was initially ahead of Carlos Sainz. However, the Spanish driver made the choice to extend his middle stint to create a tire advantage for the final segment of the race, in the hope of recovering the gap and being able to recover the position against the British driver.
After successfully overtaking the Mercedes of George Russell, who was on a one-stop strategy and attempted to employ similar DRS tactics as the Ferrari driver did seven days ago at the Marina Bay street circuit in Singapore, Carlos Sainz came within a second of surpassing Lewis Hamilton in the battle for fifth place. The final result in the Japanese Grand Prix brought the Maranello team within a 20-point margin of Mercedes in the battle for second place in the 2023 Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship. Although Carlos Sainz didn’t manage to get ahead of Lewis Hamilton, Fred Vasseur expressed great admiration for the decision-making skills demonstrated by the two-time Grand Prix winner on the track.
“The first pitstop was really on the edge between keeping the two cars in front or Lewis getting within the two cars” – the French manager explained at the end of the Japanese Grand Prix in his interviews for the media – “It was a matter of tenths probably and it was the right call from the team and the second stop was a bit more strategic. The call also came from Carlos that we agreed that we would have to extend [the stint] to try and have a tyre advantage during the last couple of laps. Because if you copy Lewis, you [will stay] behind him, and without a big delta [in tyre performance] you are going to stay behind him.” – the Ferrari boss pointed out.
“The second one was a good call from Carlos, if you copied Lewis you would have had no tyre advantage and we decided to extend the stint a little bit to have the advantage. In the last two laps, it wasn’t quite enough with Lewis, but it was the right call.” – Fred Vasseur concluded.