McLaren’s Lando Norris had qualified third behind the Red Bulls but he could do nothing about the superior race pace of the Ferraris.

Norris held off Sainz for the first stint until making a relatively early first stop on lap 11. As the race developed and strategies played out, Sainz made his second stop 10 laps later than Norris.

It brought him out behind Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes, Norris and Leclerc but his better tyres allowed him to pass all on the way to a third podium in four races, including a win in Australia and the Saudi race which he missed with appendicitis.

Strong as Sainz’s drive was, it was arguably surpassed by that of Leclerc, who moved up from eighth on the grid and deployed a one-stop strategy on the medium and hard tyres, to take fourth.

Leclerc ran a 27-lap stint on his medium tyres from the start of the race to bring himself into play after a frustrating qualifying where a 0.1-second deficit to Sainz cost him four places on the grid.

He displayed impressive tyre management to run so long on the mediums, being the only driver in the top 10 to do a one-stop.

But although he was nearly 10 seconds in front of Sainz when the Spaniard stopped with 17 laps to go, that extra tyre life was decisive. Ferrari warned Leclerc “not to lose time” fighting Sainz for third and that his fight was with Norris behind, knowing that the extra grip from the fresher tyres would leave him helpless.

Norris in fifth was comfortably clear of a close fight in the final laps between Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso, Mercedes’ George Russell and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri.

Alonso was holding off Piastri as Russell closed in on both, the Mercedes driver using medium tyres for this final stint rather than the hards on the other two cars.

Russell dived for the inside at the chicane with three laps to go but Piastri managed to hang on despite running wide.

Russell kept the pressure on and finally passed the McLaren down the pit straight at the start of the final lap.

Hamilton took ninth in another dispiriting race for Mercedes, despite professing himself happier with his car this weekend than at any point before this season, and Yuki Tsunoda was again impressive in securing the final point for RB.

His race was made when his team jumped a bunch of cars who all came in together for their first pit stops.

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