Carlos Sainz thrilled by battle with 'idol' Fernando Alonso

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Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz got a kick out of racing Fernando Alonso at the end of the U.S. Grand Prix, even though he lost fifth place on the penultimate lap of the race.

Alonso was on a charge in the McLaren and in the final few laps came up behind the battle for fifth between Felipe Massa and Sainz. Massa had been pressuring Sainz in the second half of the race, but Alonso took the Williams out of contention as he muscled past Massa and caused the Williams a puncture.

Alonso then lined up Sainz on the back straight and overtook the underpowered Toro Rosso into Turn 12 before running wide and off the circuit.

Sainz, who grew up idolising, Alonso said he knew exactly how the two-time world champion would try to attack.

"I must say that everything I know [about racing] 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," Sainz said. "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!'"

Asked if he thought it was fair that Alonso overtook him by running off the track, Sainz added: "We play with it, we know that we can go a bit wide. I enjoyed it a lot, his first comment seeing me after the race was 'you have a parachute on the straight, you're so slow on the straight it was so easy to get you on the back straight!' I said 'yeah I know, don't tell me that now!'

"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."

Later in the evening, Alonso posted a photo on social media of the two drivers having dinner together in downtown Austin.