Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz took a controlling win on the streets of Marina Bay, but never enjoyed a big lead as he intentionally kept his pace down throughout.
Sainz came home just ahead of fellow podium finishers McLaren’s Lando Norris and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, having led the leading quartet, including George Russell, and weathering the pressure being applied on him.
Earlier in the race, Sainz had also kept his head while driving around in the lead just ahead of Russell prior to the Mercedes driver pitting for a medium tyre gamble during the Virtual Safety Car.
Carlos Sainz explains decision to control the pace
While Sainz never opened up a genuine gap over the cars in pursuit of him, the Spaniard has revealed that his relatively sedate pace was completely intentional – it controlled field spread and prevented strategic options from opening up for rival drivers, while also ensuring that he could do the race on a single stop.
“Given our limitations with tyre wear and degradation, it was all about managing the beginning of each stint to make sure I made it to the target lap that we wanted to do in each compound,” he explained.
“Obviously, the Safety Car forced us to pit even earlier than we wanted and I knew it was going to be a long speed on the hards.”
Sainz said he let Russell, and later Norris, keep on his tail as an intentional strategy – first to prevent Russell from a strategic gamble (which proved futile), and giving Norris a defensive aid that also helped him stay ahead of the Mercedes duo.
“I had to get George slowing down, not to give him a Safety Car or medium tyre opportunity and it worked to perfection,” Sainz said.
“It was just quite tight at the end, but we gave Lando a bit of the DRS to help him and, in the end, we made it P1.”
Carlos Sainz: I always felt in control
Despite being under pressure throughout, Sainz revealed that he had always felt fully in control of the situation – even during the dramatic closing laps as the Mercedes drivers piled on the pressure on much fresher tyres.
“I felt under control, to be honest,” he said.
“I always felt like I had the headspace and the pace in hand to do whatever I wanted to do. I’m not gonna 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.
Having taken his first win of 2023, and his second for Ferrari in what was a comprehensively controlled performance in which Sainz had always had the measure of teammate Charles Leclerc, Sainz praised his team for their remarkable turnaround from their early season struggles.
“Yeah, 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, but now we nailed the weekend. We nailed the race.
“We did everything that we had to do, we did it perfectly and we brought home a P1 that I’m sure all of Italy and Ferrari is going to be proud and happy today.”
Sainz’s win consolidates him in fifth in the Drivers’ Championship, 19 points clear of Leclerc.