Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz says he has been studying Fernando Alonso’s race craft and overtaking flair for more than ten years, which helped him do battle with the McLaren-Honda star during last weekend’s United States Grand Prix.
The two Spaniards were involved in a thrilling scrap for fifth place in the closing stages of the Austin event. Alonso eventually managed to get past his compatriot into the hairpin on the final lap.
Asked whether he had learnt something from racing the double world champion, Sainz replied: “Of course, but I must say that everything I had to learn from him, I learned it in the past 12 years when I saw him battling for so many years.
“He was my hero and my idol, and I perfectly know how he does the flick, then cuts back with the traction, I knew getting into Turn 1 that he was going to try this, so I defended a lot on the inside.
“After so much studying I think I’ve learned, and I’m just extremely happy that he went by using the DRS and using the battery at the same time on the straight, so I said ‘OK, whatever, see you later!’”
With very little time left in the race, the 22-year-old was indeed confident he had a shot at re-claiming the position from his role model.
“I tried! I said, ‘OK, you’ve caught me, but I’m going to make you look in your mirrors in your braking and see if you look up”, and actually he did look up. I didn’t have the traction at the hairpin to get him back, but I enjoyed it a lot and I did everything I could to stay ahead.”
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“I think it was on the maximum, so I’m extremely happy that the battle was for P5 and not for P10, and happy that we kept it clean and nice.”
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