Carlos Sainz says he “felt under control” throughout the race on his way to claiming victory at the Singapore Grand Prix.
The Spaniard converted his second consecutive pole position into victory at the Marina Bay Circuit, becoming the first non-Red Bull driver to win a race in 2023.
Despite leading every lap, Sainz survived intense pressure from Lando Norris and the Mercedes drivers in the closing stages.
However, Sainz managed proceedings expertly to hold on to return Ferrari to the top step of the podium for the first time since the Austrian Grand Prix in July last year.
“An incredible feeling, and an incredible weekend,” Sainz reflected.
“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 a weekend, we nailed the race, we did everything we had to do, we did it perfect and we brought home a P1 that I’m sure all Italy, all Ferraris going to be happy today.”
1st place Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Ferrari. 17.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 16, Singapore Grand Prix, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Race Day.
Ferrari controlled the pace from the outset, with the team’s gamble to put Charles Leclerc, who started third, on the Soft tyre getting him past George Russell.
But Leclerc was absent at the front beyond the first round of stops, with the appearance of the Safety Car after Logan Sargeant hit the barrier at Turn 8 prompting the front-runners to make their mandatory change of tyres.
The delay in releasing Leclerc saw him drop a multitude of places, leaving Sainz to run a prolonged stint on the Hard tyre without his team-mate’s protection directly behind.
His victory was threatened in the final laps when Russell and Lewis Hamilton, who had stopped again under a late Virtual Safety Car, arrived on the back of the leading pair, with Sainz revealing he purposely handed Norris DRS to resist the Mercedes drivers.
“Given our limitations with tyre wear and degradation all about managing the beginning of the stints to make sure I made it to the target lap that we wanted to do on each compound,” he explained.
“Obviously a Safety Car forced us to pit even earlier than we wanted, and I knew it was going to be a long stint on hard.
“I had to keep George, I had to keep him slowing down to don’t give him a Safety Car or a Medium tyre opportunity, and it worked to perfection.
“It was just quite tight at the end, but we gave Lando a bit of DRS to help him and then in the end, we made it [to] P1.”
Although his victory remained in doubt until the very end, Sainz admits he felt composed in the cockpit throughout the race.
“I felt under control, to be honest,” he added. 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 you know. I am over the moon right now.”
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