After the red flag period, Sainz was forced to defend against Russell into Turn 1
Russell complained over team radio that Sainz had been ‘weaving’ while defending on the start-finish straight.
Sainz ultimately resisted Russell’s attacks, retaining fourth, while the Mercedes driver dropped to sixth after losing out to Lando Norris.
Speaking about the battle with Russell, Sainz said: “Well I was moving once and right before braking, which is what the rules allow.
“You cannot move on the braking but you can move right before braking and that's what I was doing.
“When you're behind you open the radio, you complain about the guy in front and [hope] he gets a warning or a five-second penalty because it benefits you.
“It's the same as always, everyone does it. George does it a lot.”
Given their race pace advantage, Sainz felt it was inevitable he would drop back anyway.
“Looking at the pace that Max and Lewis had, it was honestly a matter of time before they finished ahead or in front,” he added.
“They simply are a lot quicker than us in race pace, we kind of expected going into the race that they have some extra pace in there and we had to manage a lot of temperatures.
“I had a weird stint on Mediums and I struggled with that front tyre that was grained almost on the formation lap, so we will have to take a look at that.
“Once we put the Hards on, I think we were just following the pace of the car.”