Ferrari boss assesses Carlos Sainz return timeline with ‘amazing’ recovery underway

Thomas Maher
Carlos Sainz, 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Carlos Sainz required surgery for appendicitis after falling ill early in the weekend of the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur says Carlos Sainz’s participation in the Australian GP will be assessed next week, after the Spaniard needed surgery in Saudi Arabia.

Sainz was forced to miss the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, after battling an illness during Wednesday and Thursday that ended up being appendicitis – the Spaniard was taken to hospital on Friday in order to undergo surgery.

Fred Vasseur: We were convinced it was food poisoning

Sainz had missed Wednesday’s media day duties after returning to his hotel while feeling unwell, but showed up at the track to take part in the two practice sessions on Thursday.

Astonishingly, the Ferrari driver showed no signs of his struggles while behind the wheel as his pace remained intact, but, outside of the car, Sainz was still struggling with his illness – something that deteriorated fast when he woke up the next morning.

Speaking to the media after the race at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Fred Vasseur explained how the timeline has played out for the team as the extent of Sainz’s illness became apparent.

“Yeah, it was a strange situation at the beginning of the weekend,” he said.

“We were convinced that it was a food intoxication. He struggled a lot in both sessions with fever and stomach issues and, in the end, he was convinced that it would be much better the day after and, the day after, he called me in the morning that he would probably miss FP3 but he’d be there for quali, for sure.

“At 11:30, he was in the hospital and it was quite clear that we were not going in the right direction. Thanks to the hospital in Jeddah and to everybody from the organisation that did the surgery on Friday.

“This morning [Saturday], I visited him and he was completely okay. Okay, he has the pain and he is struggling to work, but it’s a huge recovery.

“Now we have to be focused on Melbourne. He needs to have a good rest this week and we’ll see next week.”

Is Carlos Sainz certain to race in the Australian Grand Prix?

With Sainz out of the car, Formula 2 driver Oliver Bearman was parachuted in to his seat, and the 18-year-old Englishman proved one of the sensations of the weekend as he qualified in 11th and raced to seventh on his F1 debut.

But will Bearman have another chance to drive in two weeks’ time in Australia, as the attention now turns to Sainz and whether or not he’ll be fit to race. Sainz was in the paddock for the Saudi Arabian GP, having defied doctor’s orders to leave the hospital and show up to support his team.

But there’s a big difference between watching on from the sidelines and taking on a Grand Prix distance, particularly after a surgery, and Vasseur said a decision won’t be made for a full week.

“I don’t know, honestly,” he said, when asked if Sainz is certain for Melbourne.

“The recovery so far is amazing but the fact that he was able to come today to be with the team was a very good sign and a very good support for us.

“Now, he will fly back with me tomorrow and have one week of complete rest. We’ll take a decision on when he has to fly to Melbourne in one week’s time, but I’m quite optimistic.” recommends

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Given that Sainz attempted to continue his weekend despite his struggles out of the car, Vasseur laughed and said his driver had shown the same strength of character that his famous father – rally World Champion and multiple Dakar Rally winner Carlos Sainz – displays in his career.

“I think it’s a characteristic of the family probably!” Vasseur said of Sainz’s willingness to continue despite his pain.

“I’m not strong enough to extract Carlos from the car!

“When he came on Thursday morning, he didn’t feel well, but he said, ‘Okay, I will try to do some laps’. And then he did the full session!

“The afternoon, it was exactly the same. He was already amazing for me because, after the session, he was completely destroyed.

“If you have a look at the results of practice, he had a very decent pace. He was even able to do a long stint. This was mega.

“But, now, let’s be focused on the future for Carlos – the most important thing is not to push today, it’s to recover and to recover properly.”

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