Sainz was embroiled in a tight battle with the two Mercedes drivers in the latter stages of Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Russell was attempting an ambitious one-stop strategy, while Lewis Hamilton and Sainz were on a two-stop, thus were behind on track.

With Hamilton unable to pass Russell, Mercedes intervened to let the seven-time world champion through as Sainz was beginning to pressure both of them.

Sainz quickly dispatched Russell as Mercedes’ call backfired, even when they tried to copy the Spaniard’s DRS tactic from Singapore.

“I think maybe they had a better chance, honestly speaking, if Lewis would have stayed behind,” Sainz said. 

“But at the same time I would have tried a move on Lewis because George was very slow in the Esses, and [Turn] eight and nine.

“So I would have tried into [Turn] 11 or into 13 because they were both very slow there. So we will never know.”

Sainz admitted he was “laughing” when he saw Hamilton trying to give Russell DRS, like he did with Norris in Singapore to great effect.

“Yeah, I found it [funny], actually,” he added. “I was laughing in the car because I could see Lewis backing off in 130R to give the DRS to George.

“And I was like, I need to make sure I attack George into the chicane. If I don’t throw him offline, it’s going to be impossible to pass them.

“And I went very deep into the chicane, managed to get a bit of a switchback, and then I used the DRS, slipstream on everything to pass him. 

“It was good fun. And yeah, it nearly cost me my own position with my own tricks.”