Carlos Sainz, the victor of the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix, considered the tactic of providing Lando Norris with a "clever DRS boost" to protect his lead as a risky move, but it was based on recent experiences that led him to trust his instincts.
The latter stages of the Marina Bay Grand Prix witnessed heightened excitement when Esteban Ocon's Alpine came to a halt, triggering a virtual safety car. In response, both Mercedes drivers opted for fresh medium tires, closing in on the race leaders, Sainz and Norris.
Sainz requested constant updates on the gap to Norris, allowing him to adjust his pace and keep Norris within the DRS (Drag Reduction System) range. This strategic move equipped Norris with a defensive tool. When George Russell launched an attack with just three laps to go, Sainz had to ease off to continue assisting Norris.
Sainz revealed that this strategy had been brewing in his mind and demanded full commitment to execute effectively.
"The plan I had, to provide Lando with a clever DRS boost, helped us maintain our lead," Sainz explained. "It's a strategy you always consider on tracks like Singapore, something that might come in handy at some point.
"However, it's one thing to think about it and have it in mind, but executing it is much more challenging. It puts extra pressure on you and carries risks.
"It's about committing to it and embracing the additional risk. But I felt it was my best chance to win the race, and I wanted to win.
"When I had that 1.3, 1.4-second gap to Lando after he defended into Turn 16, making the decision to slow down in Turn 1 and Turn 3, I thought, 'I hope this works' because it could have been a risky move.
"But it paid off. Sometimes, you have to trust your instincts and feelings. I've been doing that in the last two weekends, and it's been successful."
Norris added that he had no intention of attacking Sainz, stating that his primary focus was on securing second place despite the proximity of Sainz.
The British driver believed that making a late bid for the race lead would have made him more vulnerable to the pursuing Mercedes drivers.
"Carlos played it smart," Norris commented. "There was no need for me to attempt an attack on him. The more I attacked, the more vulnerable I would have been to the drivers behind us.
"We wouldn't have made it to the podium if I had taken a different approach. I knew George would apply a lot of pressure, and I had to defend aggressively at Turn 14.
"When Carlos eased off afterward, creating a small gap that allowed me to use DRS, it was incredibly helpful. We both played it smart to secure this result."