In Singapore, Carlos Sainz took his second victory in Formula 1, which of course gives him a reason to be proud, especially because he used cunning tactics, making the race the highlight of the season.
Q: The race was exciting and the competition was intense. What aspect of this win in Singapore are you most proud of?
Carlos Sainz: It’s hard to choose just one. Honestly, everything in general is something to be proud of. This year in Singapore we had the only chance to win the race – and we won. We didn’t make a single mistake all weekend, although there were many moments where we had to resist pressure, but we stayed calm and followed our plans, our tactics.
We had to take many factors into account: tire degradation, pit stops, DRS, and we managed to control all of this and win the race, which is always difficult. This is of course very cool!
Question: You showed excellent speed all weekend, but how confident were you in success before the start of the race?
Carlos Sainz: Before the race it was difficult to predict whether we would have enough speed to win the race, but I had the feeling that even if we didn’t, by controlling the pace, the intervals between us and the cars of the opponent, and the degradation of the ties, I could get such an opportunity.
Of course, in the beginning it was important to hold the first position and then set the pace. That was the plan, but the safety car arrived on track too early. I wasn’t planning on switching to hard tires already on lap 20, mainly because I managed to save the life of the Medium tires and I felt like I could stay on track much longer.
But we made the right decision, after which we had to monitor the wear throughout the segment on hard tires, but then the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) mode was introduced and the Mercedes drivers were given the opportunity to make a second pit stop to make. Of course the pressure was very high at the end of the race.
Question: Were you nervous in the last laps?
Carlos Sainz: At first I wasn’t that nervous because I felt like I could attack in the last 12-15 laps. But as soon as I pushed harder, the process of rubber degradation immediately intensified. I think both my car and Lando Norris’s McLaren slid a lot, and furthermore I was surprised how quickly the Mercedes drivers were able to stay ahead of Charles Leclerc and overtake Lando and me.
At that moment I thought: well, it won’t be easy, and in the last five or six laps the battle will unfold. Of course, at that point I had to change my tactics a bit. I had to cheat and give Lando the chance to speed up using DRS, and this helped hold off his opponents and win.
Q: How did you manage to bridge Lando’s gap without being attacked by him?
Carlos Sainz: This is always difficult, because you inevitably expose yourself to extra pressure. In this situation you understand that you cannot let the brakes lock, you cannot allow any mistake or even a slight slip, because this will give Lando the opportunity to overtake if he drives with the DRS open.
So I decided to give him the chance to use this system, hoping it would be enough to keep the Mercedes behind him. The situation really got worse that lap when Lando fended off attacks in Turns 16 and 17, and then I had to slow down the first three corners so he could use DRS again.
I believe it was this maneuver that saved my race, as well as Lando’s second place. If this hadn’t been the case, I would have been easy prey for Mercedes if they could have stayed ahead of Lando. I think they could easily overtake me.
Q: You showed excellent speed in Monza and took a great victory in Singapore. In this context, what can be said about the upcoming weekend in Suzuka?
Carlos Sainz: Honestly, he won’t care much. We had two great weekends in a row, but on circuits that suited our car. First of all, this is Marina Bay, which requires a high level of downforce. I am very proud of our team, who have made a huge effort to ensure that our car performs more efficiently on this circuit than at Zandvoort.
But I still think there will still be weekends for us where it will be difficult for us, where we won’t be able to fight for the podium and we will have to be satisfied with 5th or 6th place. We just have to try to finish at least in these positions, if this is the maximum that the car allows us to achieve.
Question: You performed well in Zandvoort and Monza and won in Singapore – all this after the summer holidays. Do you feel like everything is really starting to work well now?
Carlos Sainz: Yes, I already understand the car better and feel how to drive it. But this feeling appeared even before the summer holidays. I just agreed with my engineers what we could do to work as efficiently and stably as possible throughout the weekend.
It is clear that we are capable of a good pace, but on the weekends we were never able to put everything together. We’ll see what we can achieve at this stage of the season, but we were already doing well in Zandvoort. In Monza everything went almost perfectly, and in Singapore it was just perfect. This is work you can be proud of. That’s why I’m very happy for our engineers, mechanics and the whole team in general.
Question: This time Ferrari bet on you, on your victory, and in the first part of the race Charles even covered you, creating a gap. In the past this was not the case, because even in Monza you fought with a partner – what has changed in this regard? How did you convince Ferrari that you could win races?
Carlos Sainz: To be honest, I don’t think the team bet on me. We were just trying to get the best possible results for both cars and we were on our way when Charles created a gap and also kept a certain gap between us in case the safety car came out.
That’s exactly what happened, don’t you agree? To be honest, I showed good pace this weekend, I felt like the car and I were one, I could keep everything under control and I was driving very fast on Medium tyres. I don’t know, I’m just comfortable behind the wheel, although of course it’s always easier when you’re in the lead.
Q: You used the DRS factor to solve tactical problems, and everything worked – presumably this required clear thinking under pressure. Was it improvisation, or did you use a pre-planned technique?
Carlos Sainz: At circuits like Singapore we always anticipate the possibility of using similar tactics at some point. But the thing is that it is easy to assume, but implementing such tactics is much more difficult, because there are risks involved.
And here the determination and willingness to take greater risks are important. But I felt this was my one and only chance to win the race, and I wanted to take it to victory, especially when I heard on the radio that the lead over Lando had increased to 1.3-1.4 seconds after he had stopped Russell’s attack in Turn 16. Then I decided to slow down the first three turns.
I hoped it would work, otherwise I would have had a lot of problems. But everything worked. Sometimes you have to trust your instincts, trust your intuition. During the last two stages I behaved exactly like that, and everything turned out fine.
Q: On the radio you mentioned your interaction with Lando, which allowed you to stop Mercedes, as a good example of the CarLando duo’s achievements. You are friends with him, former partners – did the success achieved bring you special joy?
Carlos Sainz: It’s always better to have someone you get along with and respect, both as a person and as a sport. But don’t get me wrong: if Lando had had the chance to overtake me, he would have taken it to win the race. But I just knew that keeping the interval within 0.8-0.9 seconds was enough, and this would allow me to use such cunning tactics.
Of course it was a fun moment and we exchanged jokes about it and laughed together afterwards. We both liked it!
Source: F1 News
I am Christopher Clyde, an experienced journalist and content writer with a passion for sports. I have been writing about Formula 1 news for the past five years and am currently employed as an author at athletistic.com, one of the top sports websites in the US.