Carlos Sainz rues missed pole as extent of appendix discomfort revealed

Thomas Maher
Carlos Sainz, Ferrari, 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

Carlos Sainz is still feeling some discomfort from his appendix surgery.

Carlos Sainz is still struggling with discomfort from his recent appendix surgery, but it’s not affecting his driving.

The Spaniard proved the main thorn in the side for the Red Bulls in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix, but the Ferrari driver is still dealing with the effects of discomfort from his own ‘thorn in the side’ following recent appendix surgery.

Carlos Sainz: It’s been a tough couple of weeks

Sainz sat out the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, having taken part in the practice day despite struggling with illness that had sidelined him from the media day in Jeddah.

Ahead of the third practice, Sainz was taken to hospital as he was diagnosed with needing his appendix removed – the Spaniard being taken off for immediate surgery as Ferrari slotted Formula 2 driver Oliver Bearman into Sainz’s seat.

Returning to action in Australia, Sainz has proven the quicker of the two Ferrari drivers as he went quickest in Q1 and Q2 – but was powerless to stop Max Verstappen from taking pole position in the final part of qualifying.

Stepping out of the car after taking second place on the grid, 0.270 off the pace set by Verstappen, Sainz admitted that he’s still feeling some discomfort from his recent surgery – but it’s not exactly pain he’s feeling.

“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,” he said.

“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’m very happy to be here. I’m very happy to be challenging the Red Bulls this weekend.

“I was a bit rusty at the beginning yesterday, but then I got up to speed and I could finally find the pace and I’m feeling good with the car.”

While firmly strapped into the car and fighting the G-forces of driving around at high speed, Sainz said he is battling through the discomfort of the situation.

“I’m not gonna lie. I’m not in my most comfortable state when I’m driving out there,” he said.

“But I can get it done – as far as I can get it done without the pain.

“Obviously, [there’s] a lot of discomfort and weird feelings but no pain, so it allows me to push flat out.” recommends

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Carlos Sainz: I might have been on pole had I not missed Saudi Arabia

With Sainz taking part in his second full race weekend of the season, rather than third, the Ferrari driver said he could feel how he was still learning the car as the pace ramped up through the qualifying session.

“If you would have told me two weeks ago when I got the appendix removed that I would be in Australia ready to go again and fight for pole position, I would have 100 percent taken it,” he said.

“After being P1 in Q1 and Q2, and knowing that I left some time on the table in Q3, it’s obviously a bit disappointing, but it’s normal also.

“I didn’t do quali in Jeddah and I’m probably a bit out of shape also. I’m probably still learning this new car, I missed the full qualifying session in Jeddah and the full race. So probably there were things in Jeddah I could have learned through quali that I could have applied today that I couldn’t apply in Q3.

“The car surprised me in a couple of corners once we started to crank in the flap.

“Yeah, it wasn’t the cleanest of laps but, if you would have told me even five days ago when I travelled here, still recovering, that I could be P2 on the grid and fighting for pole, I would have taken it.”

Knowing that he wasn’t absolutely at the top of his full fitness, Sainz said pole position may have been possible had he been in tip-top shape.

“I think, nowadays, you need to be 100 percent to beat Max – today I wasn’t and, probably due to that, I missed out on pole,” he said.

“Today, if I would have done a 100 percent good job, pole position could have been possible. If I had felt 100 percent and I had done Jeddah, I think that 1:15.9 [Verstappen’s pole time] was achievable with the way I was driving and the way I felt in the car.

“[Sunday] will be the same, I need to be 100 percent to beat Max. We will give it my absolute everything to do it because it’s been a while since Singapore and he’s been on that top step since!

“If there’s one weekend where we have a good pace, it’s this one – tricky track to overtake, tricky on tyres so who knows? I think we might have a chance.”

As for what it feels like driving around with no appendix so soon after surgery, Sainz revealed he had spoken with Williams’ Alex Albon about the sensation – Albon having had his appendix removed in late 2022 as he missed the Italian Grand Prix.

“I feel like it’s exactly what Alex told me before jumping in the car,” he said.

“He said when he got his appendix removed, just with the G-force, everything on the inside just feels like it’s moving more than normal.

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

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

“Especially the circuits where we’re pulling five or six G in some of the braking zones and corners. Obviously, everything is moving but without pain and I can deal with it and I can adapt to it also.”

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