Carlos Sainz had a chuckle at Mercedes’ tactics during the Japanese Grand Prix as the Brackley squad tried to use his Singapore DRS trick against him to prevent him from passing.
Closing in on Lewis Hamilton at the Suzuka circuit, the Briton running behind the one-stopping George Russell, the latter was ordered by Mercedes to give the position to Hamilton as he was faster.
Russell asked Mercedes in turn to tell Hamilton to stay within a second of him to give him DRS to help him defend against Sainz, similar to how Sainz gave Lando Norris DRS in Singapore to keep the Mercedes team-mates behind them.
Carlos Sainz was ‘laughing’ at Mercedes
Sainz told Ferrari that Mercedes are “using my trick against me”.
But with Hamilton not agreeing as he “didn’t think that was a good idea”, he scampered off into the distance and the Ferrari driver pounced on Russell to take sixth place.
Sainz found it all rather amusing.
“Yeah, I found it [funny], actually,” he told Autosport. “I was laughing in the car because I could see Lewis backing off in 130R to give the DRS to George.
“And I was like, I need to make sure I attack George into the chicane. If I don’t throw him offline, it’s going to be impossible to pass them.
“And I went very deep into the chicane, managed to get a bit of a switchback, and then I used the DRS, slipstream on everything to pass him.
“It was good fun. And yeah, it nearly cost me my own position with my own tricks.”
Sainz and Hamilton disagree on Mercedes team orders
In the midst of the Mercedes team-mates’ squabbles, Hamilton said he felt Mercedes should’ve used team orders “earlier and I should have got as far ahead as possible to keep the gap as big as I could to the Ferrari.”
He added: “I think if we had inverted, maybe George would have had a better time holding him behind maybe, but because he was trying to fight me and damaging his tyres then I think it just made it all complicated.”
Sainz doesn’t agree.
“I think maybe they had a better chance, honestly speaking, if Lewis would have stayed behind,” he said.
“But at the same time I would have tried a move on Lewis because George was very slow in the Esses, and [Turn] eight and nine.
“So I would have tried into [Turn] 11 or into 13 because they were both very slow there. So we will never know.”
“But,” he accepted, it also would’ve been “riskier to leave also Lewis behind, because if I got Lewis, I got George.”
Despite closing in at the very end of the grand prix, Sainz wasn’t able to attack and crossed the line eight-tenths down on the Mercedes driver.
“I think Suzuka proved to be quite tricky to overtake,” he said. “And track position was fundamental. I think I was four or five-tenths quicker than Lewis, closing in on him.
“And I don’t think that’s enough delta to pass. Last two laps, I was quicker. But it gets to a point where if you’re not one second quicker, you’re not passing. Also, Charles [Leclerc] took quite a long time to pass George on very worn hards for George.
“And it just proved to me that today it was all about track position, which is what we lost at the pitstop. We were four seconds in front of Lewis – we exit eight behind.”