Sainz took Ferrari’s first victory in F1 since the 2022 Austrian Grand Prix with a masterclass in Singapore.

Starting from pole, Sainz controlled the race from the front, with teammate Charles Leclerc acting as a useful buffer.

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The race turned on its head when the Virtual Safety Car was deployed due to Esteban Ocon’s stricken Alpine, allowing Mercedes to pit George Russell and Lewis Hamilton for new mediums.

Russell and Hamilton closed the leaders down, challenging Lando Norris for second in the closing five laps.

Russell was unable to overtake Norris because Sainz, who had the race lead, deliberately backed off to give his former teammate DRS and a crucial top-speed advantage to keep the position. 

Had he not done that, it’s likely Russell would have breezed past Norris before taking the win off Sainz.

Speaking after the race, Vasseur confirmed the tactic was all down to Sainz.

“It was the idea of Carlos,” Vasseur said.. “I don't want to say it's obvious, but he knew he was more at risk with Mercedes than with Norris.

“With Norris we had the same tyres, and almost the same pace from the lap one. We were not really at risk with Norris except if we lost the tyres, so it was a clever move from Carlos to keep Norris into the DRS.”

Vasseur refused to get drawn into questions about Red Bull’s surprising drop in form.

“I was not focused on Red Bull, we have to do the best no matter where Red Bull is," Vasseur added.

“In terms of management, Carlos did a fantastic job. From lap one he was really on the controlled side and it was a very good job.”