Ferrari boss Frederic Vasseur has praised Carlos Sainz towards pushing the team to a different strategy to defeat one Mercedes in the Japanese Grand Prix.
In a high tyre degradation race at Suzuka, Lewis Hamilton was running ahead of Sainz, but the Spanish driver elected to go long on his middle stint to build a tyre off-set in the closing stint.
Once he got past the one-stopping George Russell who tried to emulate his DRS tricks from Singapore, Sainz fell just under a second from beating Hamilton for fifth as the gap between Ferrari and Mercedes closed to within 20 points in the fight for second in the Constructors'.
While Sainz didn't get Hamilton, Vasseur was full of praise for the two-time Grand Prix winner's decision-making behind the wheel.
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Vasseur's Sainz praise
"The first pitstop was really on the edge between keeping the two cars in front or Lewis getting within the two cars," Vasseur told media including RacingNews365.
"It was a matter of tenths probably and it was the right call from the team and the second stop was a bit more strategic.
"The call also came from Carlos that we agreed that we would have to extend [the stint] to try and have a tyre advantage during the last couple of laps.
"Because if you copy Lewis, you [will stay] behind him, and without a big delta [in tyre performance] you are going to stay behind him.
"The second one was a good call from Carlos, if you copied Lewis you would have had no tyre advantage and we decided to extend the stint a little bit to have the advantage.
"In the last two laps, it wasn't quite enough with Lewis, but it was the right call."