Lammers praises hard worker Sainz: ‘He was in a good position from day one’

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Lammers praises hard worker Sainz: 'He was in a good position from day one'

Normally there are countless compliments in store for Max Verstappen, but this race weekend all the praise went to Carlos Sainz. Ernest Knoors and Jan Lammers sat down at the NOS review and were particularly impressed by the brave strategic choices made this time by the Ferrari team. They also saw that things did not go well at Red Bull Racing this weekend, but according to both gentlemen, this has mainly to do with the tire temperature in this case.

It now seems routine to see a Red Bull car parked behind the number one sign, but this time that spot was reserved for race winner Sainz. The Spaniard already managed to surprise with his strong performance in Monza, but in Singapore he was able to actually capitalize on his pole position. Knoors and Lammers both saw how Sainz seemed to come out of his shell in Monza, and the results also followed this weekend. “It was absolutely a very good performance from Sainz, who had actually been in an excellent position from day one.”

Since the start of the season, Ferrari has had a new team boss, and that is none other than Frédéric Vasseur. According to Lammers, his influence is slowly but surely starting to shine through in his team’s results. ‘You can now also see Vasseur’s hand, because this result has of course already been worked on in recent months. So from a strategic point of view you can really see what role Vasseur plays.’ While the strategy seemed to come as it should for Sainz, the choices for Leclerc threw a spanner in the works, Knoors also saw. ‘You see that Ferrari seemed to be betting everything on victory, but it didn’t matter who would finish as winner. Charles Leclerc was also sent off on soft tires and told to finish in front of George Russell at the start so they could control the front with two cars.’

During the Virtual Safety Car it seemed for a moment that Ferrari had made a strategic mistake, but Sainz managed to keep the situation under control. “Ferrari had no choice during the Virtual Safety Car,” Knoors noted, “because they were in the lead and could not give up that position. It was the most logical choice for Ferrari.” On the other side of the pit lane, the Mercedes team opted for the option that undoubtedly entailed the necessary risks, Knoors emphasizes. ‘Mercedes chose to take a full risk and bring in both cars. It could have ended very badly, but in the end it made for a great finale.’

Red Bull is missing the strategic point in Singapore

Strategically, he was right for the first time at Ferrari, and even when things seemed to be getting tense, the drivers did exactly what they were supposed to do. However, Red Bull had a lot more difficulty with this in Singapore, which, according to Lammers, was largely due to the characteristics of the circuit. Lammers rightly noted that the Red Bull drivers, and Verstappen in particular, seemed to be having a very difficult time with the tire temperature. ‘Singapore is a smooth track by nature, because it is not a permanent track. Red Bull had a big disadvantage there because you need more laps on that track to get your tires up to temperature, and Red Bull just left it at that.’

In the end, Red Bull completely missed the mark when it came to strategic choices. The strategy they started the race with was downright aggressive, and ultimately did not work out as the team hoped. “They opted for a strategy where they would be strong at the end of the race, but had to start on the hard tire,” Knoors begins. ‘They had to drive for a long time with a heavy car, but that also caused the tires to deteriorate. With the medium tires they could then attack, and in that respect they could make the most of the strategy.’ Knoors therefore has little to complain about Verstappen’s performance. ‘Singapore is known as a circuit where it is difficult to overtake, and he started the weekend without confidence. If you start outside the top ten and can drive to fifth place, you have really gotten the best out of that car.’

Lammers also noted that Verstappen seems to be driving more maturely now that he has more experience. Towards the end of the race he made a pass on Lawson, and the rookie tried tooth and nail to defend his position. According to Lammers, it is precisely this defensive attitude that shows the difference between experienced and non-experienced drivers. ‘Lawson was difficult to overtake, and that defense initially seems positive, but you noticed that Max (Verstappen, ed.) let everyone pass him by. He keeps looking at the rest of the race, because he knows that in those kinds of battles you can lose the points of contact with the rest of the field much faster.’

Fights for podium places were all about brave choices

There was one constant factor that kept recurring throughout the race, and that was the small differences between them. Fights regularly broke out because the gaps were so small, and according to Lammers that shows a lot of courage. ‘It was characteristic of the top four that they showed a lot of courage. The strategic choices that Mercedes made, for example, were very risky, because you have to have the confidence that you can make up for the lost places.’ Sainz’s choice to keep Lando Norris within a second’s distance was also a special one according to both men. ‘As the leader in the race you have to ensure that you keep that buffer, in this case Norris, as close as possible behind you. What Sainz did was really smart, but also so risky, because those Mercedes cars are also getting closer. One mistake and you lose the lead, that’s how quickly it can happen.’

Norris’s second place also deserves the necessary compliments from Knoors. ‘Norris’ maneuver was also great, because don’t forget that second place is also great for him. He kept the two Mercedes drivers, who were also driving on softer and newer tyres, behind him, so he did a really great job.’ George Russell also receives the necessary compliments from Knoors, despite his crash just before the finish. ‘He really tried everything to get that victory, and he really pushed the limit. Then you want to make that turn as wide as possible, but Russell then shoots straight, but he gave everything he had.’ But the final praise is really about Sainz, who, according to Lammers, has less talent than teammate Leclerc. ‘Big compliment to Carlos Sainz. Maybe he has a fraction less talent than Leclerc, but he is really a very hard worker.’

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