Carlos Sainz bounces back from surgery to secure a front row start in Melbourne

Carlos Sainz bounces back from surgery to secure a front row start in Melbourne

Carlos Sainz will be starting from the front row for the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday after spending several weeks in a hospital bed.

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz said he could hardly believe he had secured a front row spot for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix race just two weeks after suffering appendicitis in Saudi Arabia, prompting an emergency surgery.

Sainz dominated the first two rounds of Saturday’s qualifying session in Melbourne, but at the end of the third round he lost out on pole position to Red Bull rival Max Verstappen by a margin of 0.270 seconds.

“It’s been a tough couple of weeks, a lot of days in bed waiting for this moment to see if I could be here today,” Sainz said after qualifying. “To make it to this weekend and then obviously to put it on the front row after leading through qualifying I was almost not believing it, especially after how tough it’s been.

“But I am happy to be here,” he added. “I’m very happy to be challenging the Red Bulls this weekend.”

Sainz was unable to participate in the most recent Grand Prix in Jeddah after having surgery; nonetheless, he returned to the paddock in time to witness his stand-in Oliver Bearman make an outstanding F1 debut and finish in the points.

Sainz’s chances to recover fully in time for this weekend raised questions, but he was keen to jump back into the driver’s seat for the Australian Grand Prix if possible.

“I was a bit rusty at the beginning yesterday but then I got up to speed and I could finally find the pace and felt good in the car,” he added.

“I’m not going to lie I’m not in my most comfortable state when I’m driving out there, but I can get it done,” the Spanish driver added. “And as far as I can get it done without pain… obviously a lot of discomfort and weird feelings, but no pain, so it allows me to push flat-out.”

Comparing his experience with that of Alex Albon, who had to be replaced by Nyck de Vries at the eleventh hour due to a similar medical situation in Monza ahead of the 2022 Italian GP, proved beneficial according to Sainz.

“I feel like it’s exactly what Alex told me before jumping in the car when he got his appendix removed,” Sainz said. “With the G-force and everything, on the inside it just feels like everything is moving more than normal.

“You need some confidence to brace the core and the body as you’re used to do, but you get used to it.

“There is no pain, nothing to worry about. It’s just a weird feeling that you have to get used to while driving.”

Sainz believed that the absence of track time from Saudi Arabian qualifying and race, which left him feeling rusty going into this weekend was the biggest issue.

“I’m still learning this new car,” he said. “I missed a qualifying session in Jeddah and full race, so probably there were things there that I could have learned through qualifying that I could have applied today.

“The car surprised me in a couple of corners once we started to crank in the flap, so it wasn’t the cleanest of laps.

“But as I said, if you would have told me even five days ago that I could have travelled here, still recovering, and be P2 on the grid and fighting for pole, I would have taken it!”

Meanwhile, Sainz’s teammate Charles Leclerc will start tomorrow’s race from the fifth spot on the starting grid.

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