Sainz explains his "Smooth Operator" McLaren F1 team radio messages

Oleg Karpov and Jack Benyon
Sainz explains his

McLaren Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr has explained why his "Smooth Operator" messages from the 1984 song by Sade became a recurring joke in 2019.

Sainz took the second of his four 2019 top-five finishes in Hungary and, following an exchange with his race engineer Tom Stallard, said, 'Thomas, you know what that was' before singing the song.

That message gained cult status, with social media messages and YouTube videos dedicated to it.

Sainz repeated his rendition of the song after taking fourth in the Brazilian Grand Prix, which became third when Lewis Hamiton was penalised post-race for hitting Alex Albon late in the race.

When asked where it came from, Sainz said: "Just a song that kept coming up on the radio of the car [during] the British Grand Prix [weekend].

"I just started hearing it on the radio. And apparently it is quite a bit [of a] famous song."

On when it was first used to describe him - as a smooth operator - he added: "After the race [at the Hungaroring] I sang this song, without knowing what a smooth operator was.

"Then people in the team started telling me what a smooth operator was.

"And then I realised, well, maybe I can attribute myself that and start creating a bit of a joke around me.

"But I didn't sing it because I considered myself a smooth operator, because I didn't know what a smooth operator was."

Sainz explains his

Sainz and McLaren team-mate Lando Norris struck up a genial partnership off-track in 2019 and built up a strong social media following, which F1 has fed off in an attempt to attract younger and new audiences.

Norris has had a number of notable radio exchanges this year, including at the Abu Dhabi GP where he mocked his engineer for crying during his last race with the team.

Sainz said he had even looked at YouTube comments regarding his 'smooth operator' tag.

"Yeah, very funny that," he said.

"I went through them, and there are some really funny comments, like this comments, 'we are here because of Carlos' and you see 1000 likes."

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