Carlos Sainz clinched his second Grand Prix victory, halting Red Bull's dominant run. However, to say this was a straightforward win for the Spanish racer would be far from the truth.
An Evening of Unwavering Pressure
From the very first light till the waving of the checkered flag, Sainz faced unyielding pressure.
Starting the race at pole position, he constantly battled to fend off the Mercedes powerhouse, George Russell, whose car arguably had the better pace. As the evening wore on, the Spaniard was forced into a meticulous tire management strategy, ensuring he reached the pit stop with the lead still in his grip.
Reflecting on the immense challenge, Sainz shared, “That little bit of extra stress [at the end] I didn’t want and didn’t need. But wins never come easy... we had to fight for it, we had to be strategic, we had to nail everything, and we had to commit to our plans."
Team Tactics: Sainz and Norris
Towards the race's closing stages, Sainz’s strategy took an even more dramatic turn.
He dropped back, allowing teammate Norris to activate the DRS (Drag Reduction System) as a defense mechanism against the relentless pursuits of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton. It was a daring move, designed to keep Norris in a strong position and, indirectly, maintain Sainz’s lead.
In Sainz's own words, "I slowed down just a bit to give him DRS into Turn 7 to hold them off and keep my race under control. Not easy... but it was my strategy and I’m glad it did." The camaraderie between Sainz and Norris was evident.
"I think we should buy each other drinks," Sainz humorously suggested. It was indeed a night where team spirit shone brightly, especially as the McLaren team celebrated alongside Ferrari. However, the night was not as kind to Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.
Choosing a different strategy, the Monegasque racer's prospects dimmed after a delay during a double stack pit stop under the Safety Car period. Reflecting on his race, Leclerc stated, “I always knew it was going to be an uphill race for me... At the end, we’ve managed it perfectly as a team."
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