Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur has revealed the tactic deployed by Carlos Sainz to deliberately bring Lando Norris into his DRS range in Singapore came from his driver himself, rather than from the pit wall.
Sainz was narrowly in front of his former McLaren team-mate in the closing stages of the Singapore Grand Prix as the race drew to a dramatic conclusion, with the charging Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton fast approaching behind.
But by keeping Norris in close proximity, Sainz was able to indirectly help his former colleague along in the DRS zones and keep the Mercedes pair behind on much faster tyres in the closing laps.
Carlos Sainz seized initiative to bring Lando Norris into DRS range
Sainz admitted after the race that the extra pace of the Mercedes drivers on tyres 25 laps younger could have made him “dead meat” if they were able to get close to him in the final laps of the race, so he deployed a cunning plan to give Norris an extra straight-line speed boost while holding enough of a gap to maintain the lead.
This in turn helped Norris hold Russell behind him, which enabled him to hold on to his second Grand Prix victory on Sunday in a demanding race at Marina Bay.
Having made his way through to the chequered flag unscathed, the Ferrari team boss revealed it was his driver who took the initiative and tried something different on Sunday.
“It was the idea of Carlos, I don’t want to say it’s of use, but he knew he was more at risk with Mercedes than with Norris,” Vasseur told reporters after the race.
“With Norris we had the same tyres, almost the same pace from the lap one and we were not really at risk with Norris except if we lost the tyres, and it was a clever move from Carlos to keep Norris into the DRS.”
Sainz has been in a rich vein of form since the summer break, taking an unlikely top-five finish for Ferrari on an uncompetitive weekend at Zandvoort before putting his car on pole at Monza and holding on to his first podium of the season.
When asked if there was anything that has changed about the Spaniard’s approach of late, his team principal believes the 29-year-old has simply made strong progress.
“The last two weekends Carlos did a very good step forward and probably also into the preparation of the weekend,” Vasseur explained.
“The biggest difference is that he is ready from lap one [in] FP1, Zandvoort was also the same. He didn’t do FP1, we had the rookie FP1, but from lap one FP2 he was there and it’s the best way to prepare the quali.
“If you don’t have so many sets of tyres, it means that if you are starting the weekend a step backwards, clear you have to overshoot the limit and also for the team in terms of preparation, it’s the best approach you can have.
“Today he was under control in the race, he did a mega job, but I think the preparation of the weekend he did a real step forwards.”