Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Singapore, 2023

Slowing Russell down was key to “perfect” Singapore win – Sainz

Formula 1

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Carlos Sainz Jnr said he had to contain George Russell’s pace during the Singapore Grand Prix in order to hold off his rival for victory.

The Ferrari driver scored his first victory of the season from pole position in today’s race having soaked up pressure from the Mercedes driver during the first two stints. However a Safety Car period caused by Logan Sargeant hitting a barrier meant Ferrari had to pit Sainz earlier than planned and therefore run a longer final stint than they intended.

“It was all about, given our limitations with tyre wear and degradation, all about managing the beginning of the stint so that later I made it to the target lap as we wanted to do on this compound.

“Obviously the Safety Car forced us to pit a bit earlier that we wanted and I knew it was going to be a long stint on hard [tyres]. I had to keep George [behind], I had to keep him slowing down, don’t give him a Safety Car or a medium tyre opportunity and it worked to perfection.”

Mercedes used a Virtual Safety Car period later in the race to put both their drivers on fresh sets of tyres. Sainz backed off and allowed Lando Norris to close on him, meaning the McLaren driver was allowed to use DRS, which prevented Russell from attacking his rival.

“It was quite tight at the end,” said Sainz, “but we gave Lando a bit of DRS to help him and in the end we made it P1.“

Despite spending most of the race under pressure from arrival behind, Sainz felt he had it “under control” all the way.

“I always felt like I had the headspace and the pace in hand to do whatever I wanted to do. I’m not going to lie, you’re under pressure and you obviously are very close to making any kind of mistake but I felt under control, I felt like I could manage well and we brought it home. That was the best feeling, I’m over the moon right now.”

Sainz ended Red Bull’s run of consecutive wins and scored the second victory of his career.

“It’s an incredible feeling, an incredible weekend,” he said. “I want to thank everyone in Ferrari for making this huge effort to turn around and manage to win this season after a tricky beginning.

“We nailed the weekend, we nailed the race, we did everything that we had to do we did it perfect and we brought home a P1 and I’m sure all Italy, all Ferrari is going to be proud and happy today.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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24 comments on “Slowing Russell down was key to “perfect” Singapore win – Sainz”

  1. It would have been a whole different story if it was Hamilton behind him.

    Russell at this level, had no answers.

    1. We’ve seen Norris doing as great a job keeping Hamilton behind already Ajaxn, so apart from Hamilton probably not crashing, I don’t think it would have gone differently.

    2. In this case hamilton was faster and it’d have made sense to give him a shot, but like the other poster said, it’s not a given hamilton would’ve got past, russell is usually more aggressive when it comes to defending and overtaking.

  2. In the end Russell contained himself…

    1. In a race like that where sainz was managing. It would make sense for them to have pushed him harder for ung him to use more tyre, by with the intention of stopping no matter what wether green to the end or not. Sainz probably saved a lot of tyre when ahead of Russel and that was one of the keys to winning today

      1. The thing is Russell knew what Sainz was doing, he radioed it in, yet he still didn’t have an answer

  3. Incredible drive by Sainz by the way. He earned this one!

  4. Sainz may not have the outright pace of some of the other guys in the top cars, but he is very aware of and usually correct in his interpretation of the race around him. Worked out well for him today.

  5. Congratulations on Sainz and Ferrari for being the lottery winners of being the quickest combo in the 1 weekend Red Bull had issues.

    One of these bad weekends for Red Bull had to happen eventually and it’s just their luck it happened at a track where passing is incredibly hard and you can dictate the pace like Monaco.

    1. There was a lottery for the grid positions and Sainz won? I thought there had been a regular qualifying session.

    2. This has nothing to do with luck and it’s easier to pass than monaco as you saw with verstappen’s recovery, it was a very cleverly managed race, unheard of from ferrari.

    3. If you look at 2017 singapore, quali pace in a street track doesn’t mean winning.

  6. Only in Singapore.

  7. Sainz has outpaced and outclassed Leclerc. He has stepped up his profile in 23, and now Vasseur can’t regard him as the ‘second driver’ any more.
    Ferrari will need to get the best alongside Sainz. I don’t think Leclerc will accept demotion without a messy struggle.

    1. Still think Leclerc has a higher ceiling than Sainz, but he’s not hitting it often enough considering this is his 5th season at Ferrari. Sainz is solid driver, and it’s to be expected that he can beat Leclerc a bunch of times over a season.

      But Leclerc would do well to regain his 2022 form relative to Sainz sooner rather than later.

    2. Ferrari kind of sacrificed Leclerc by putting him on the softs knowing he would have to pit early. Leclerc didn’t really exploit the softs to get a better start, after which he was always going to come off second-best. Maybe they were hoping for any early safety.

      1. Leclerc said afterwards that he opted for the Soft to get ahead of Russell and to avoid undercutting Sainz for the lead. That last one seems like a bad argument, but he was probably thinking of the 2019 race.

        But with Leclerc on the soft tyres, Ferrari should have let him build a lead. They keep misusing the tyres by having the soft stay stuck behind the medium, and in other races, using the hards shorter than other teams use the mediums.

        1. They keep misusing the tyres by having the soft stay stuck behind the medium, and in other races, using the hards shorter than other teams use the mediums

          Ferrari know they have a tyre deg. problem. We all know it.
          Most people watching that race will now know that the problem is minimised or eliminated if they keep the top speed down.
          Unfortunately, to win most races – like where passing is less of a problem, they need to be running at a higher speed and that’s their high deg. issue coming into play straight away.

  8. Fantastic drive from Sainz but there’s something about him racing Verstappen that’s so different. Canada 2022 – Locked up in a quicker car, Silverstone 2022 – Went off when Max was about to catch him, Monza 2023 – Locked up giving up the lead to Max.

    If he can have a race like this against Max in P2, that would definitely help my personal assessment of Sainz.

    Still think Leclerc has much higher peaks and is the only few to fight Max over a season though.

    He clearly has a mental edge over Lando, evidenced by him beating Lando both years as teammates and the fact that they weren’t separated if at all by much.

    Would have been a much more spicier weekend with Max in P5 to P8 to begin with. I reckon he wins the race.

    1. Fantastic drive from Sainz but there’s something about him racing Verstappen that’s so different.

      Like most other drivers in F1 Sainz spends his time near Verstappen avoiding a collision.
      It’s a tactic Max uses, “out of the way, or we will crash”
      NB. Max has used very similar words over the radio, so everyone knows.

      1. You contribute absolutely nothing when you basically derail any discussion with your blind hate. It would be better if people like you don’t engage at all. Imagine getting so triggered, without understanding the rules of racing, especially for this specific context.

        I wish you and your mental health well. I believe it can be difficult to handle success of people who you absolutely hate, and lack any sense of objectivity assessing them with.

        1. It’s called observing facts.
          Fact: various drivers have made comments about avoiding collisions with Max
          Fact: Max has uttered words to the effect that if you don’t get out of the way, there will be a crash.

          The observation that Sainz drove differently round Max is not mine.
          In my life, two people have made it to my intense dislike (hate takes too much effort, and I’m lazy) neither of those two people is Max

  9. Well deserved for Sainz and brilliantly executed. Although the majority of the race was dull. Overall I feel we should take this Mickey Mouse track of the calendar or make impactful changes to the role the tires play. 3/4th of the race was quite uneventful.

    1. In fact for me it’s refreshing to have races like this and monaco, where you have to work for an overtake and don’t just breeze past with drs, would like more of those. Hungary is decent too.

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