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Vasseur: Impressive Singapore strategy was ‘the idea of Carlos’

Ferrari claimed their first win of the 2023 season despite going purposely slower during the Singapore Grand Prix

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Ferrari Team Principal Fred Vasseur has credited his team’s victory in Singapore to the smart work of driver Carlos Sainz, whose strategy call helped him reach the top of the podium.

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Carlos Sainz and Frederic Vasseur on the grid during the F1 Grand Prix of Singapore at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 17, 2023 in Singapore, Singapore. (Photo by Qian Jun/MB Media/Getty Images)

The race in Singapore ended Red Bull’s dominance as Ferrari became the first team other than the Milton Keynes-based outfit to win a race this season.

Carlos Sainz’s victory was helped by his clever strategy call, giving him first place whilst also helping his former teammate Lando Norris of McLaren finish the race in P2.

Having the lead, Sainz deliberately kept Norris within DRS range of him. As a result, this helped the McLaren driver fight off the on-rushing Mercedes cars, meaning that the Ferrari was free from the battle behind him.

The plan worked perfectly for Sainz as it gave Norris just enough DRS to fight off George Russell. However, Russell’s race ended in an unfortunate manner as he hit the wall on the penultimate lap.

Ferrari’s strategy did have a say in the end result, using Charles Leclerc as a buffer against on-rushing cars. But the decision to give Norris DRS was all down to Sainz.

“It was the idea of Carlos,” said Vasseur, speaking to AutoSport.

“I don’t want to say it’s obvious, but he knew he was more at risk with Mercedes than with Norris.

“With Norris, we had the same tyres and almost the same pace from the lap one. We were not really at risk with Norris except if we lost the tyres. So it was a clever move from Carlos to keep Norris into the DRS.”

Could Sainz of held out anyway?

Having both pitted under the virtual safety car, both Mercedes cars arrived behind Norris with fresh sets of medium tyres. Some would’ve thought Sainz may have been able to hold off those behind; it looked clear that his Ferrari had more pace, which could have used to stay ahead of the Silver Arrows.

Explaining his decision, Sainz said:

“It’s always tricky because you always put yourself under extra pressure.

“You know that then you cannot have a lock-up and you cannot have a single mistake or a snap, because it means that then Lando’s going to have a chance to overtake you if he’s in DRS. So at that point you decide to give him the DRS, hoping that’s going to be enough to keep the Mercs behind.

“There was, in particular, one lap that I think Lando defended into Turn 16-17, and then I had to slow down a lot into Turns 1-2-3 to give him DRS again. I think that move actually saved my race, saved also Lando’s P2, because I feel like if not I would have been also dead meat.

“If the Mercs would have passed Lando, I think they could have got past me pretty easily.”

With Red Bull’s dominance of race wins now having come to an end, will Ferrari be able to continue their strong performance from Singapore?

Featured Image Credit: @Carlossainz55 via X

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