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Norris: I had to play it smart, Carlos played it smart

Norris: I had to play it smart, Carlos played it smart

Norris: I had to play it smart, Carlos played it smart

Lando Norris hailed the tactical coordination he and Carlos Sainz displayed during the final stages of the 2023 Singapore Grand Prix, which meant both could fend off the Mercedes attack.

Norris and Sainz were sitting ducks towards the end of the grand prix in Singapore as George Russell and Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes, flying on fresh Medium tyres were hell-bent on attacking them for the top honours.

But then Sainz played it smart, allowing Norris to get into his DRS giving him an advantage as the McLaren driver tried to fend off Russell’s attack, but just enough without threatening his lead.

Norris on the other hand played ball, and instead of attacking his former teammate, did not take any risks, and in the end bagged his ninth Formula 1 career podium.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after the race, Norris said: “Amazing. Great race. No overtaking on track but perfect strategy. A great pit stop from my guys to get ahead of Charles.

“And a good strategy. Both Mercedes boxed and I thought it was a guarantee that they would get back past me, but I managed to hold them off. Carlos helped me achieve that.

“We worked together pretty well to help one another. If I got overtaken, he would have done,” the Briton pointed out.

“I had to play it tactical. If I attacked Carlos, I probably wouldn’t have finished on the podium. I had to play it smart, and Carlos played it smart. He was clever with it all. So congrats to him,” Norris explained.

The plan Norris and Sainz applied was briefly threatened as Russell almost got past the #4 McLaren with four laps to go.

Norris reflected: “I thought he had me initially but then I got on the overtake and he bottomed out a little bit because of the crest and that gave me a little bit more momentum to stay ahead of him.”

Later in McLaren’s race report, Norris added: “Incredible. Carlos, Charles, Lewis, George, and I really pushed each other hard all evening.

“The end of the race was very stressful, but it paid off. We knew it was going to be tough as soon as Mercedes boxed, especially with only a couple of cars for them to overtake – but we held them off, did what we needed to do and we’re on the podium with P2, so I’m super-happy this evening.

“The team is amazing, and I can’t thank them enough for their hard work in giving me this car,” Norris added. “It was good to see Oscar [Piastri] fighting his way through to P7, cementing the points for the team also.

“The car looked great in the Stealth Mode livery and it’s just a great result for the team tonight. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do in Japan,” the 23-year-old concluded.

A decent drive by Piastri in the un-upgraded McLaren

Despite not having the benefit of the upgrade package McLaren bolted on his teammate’s car, Piastri drove a strong race from 17th to finish seventh.

The rookie said: “P7. Not a bad night’s work! Obviously, our pace was decent, and I feel that I took advantage of the stuff going on around me after a good first lap.

“All-in-all, pretty happy with that. I don’t think there was too much left on the table there. It’s great to see Lando on the podium and for the team to be rewarded for all their hard work.

“I’m looking forward to the upgrades next week and hopefully we can have some more fun,” Piastri concluded.

McLaren boss Andrea Stella summed up his team’s race in Singapore, he said: “Tonight, we are celebrating a very good result for the team here in Singapore.

“Our aim for Oscar was to get him into the points, he did an excellent job, rising from P17 to P7. Our decision to leave Lando out at the VSC paid off with P2. It worked out well, but it was marginal and could have easily gone the other way, the end of the race was very tense!” he explained.

The Italian pointed out: “We had great pit-stops today, good strategy and everyone on the race team has worked very hard all weekend in tough conditions – but I want to take the opportunity to thank everyone at the factory for getting this upgrade onto Lando’s car and making this possible.

“We’re heading to Suzuka now, where we look forward to another good race!” he concluded.

Despite Aston Martin leaving Singapore pointless, McLaren still have a 78-point-gap to catch them for fourth place in the 2023 F1 Constructors’ Standings.