‘Sick’ Carlos Sainz explains deficit to Charles Leclerc after ‘difficult last 24 hours’

Jamie Woodhouse
Carlos Sainz pulling on his fireproofs.

Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari garage.

Carlos Sainz said it has been a “difficult last 24 hours” upon his return to Ferrari duties at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, this contributing to his three-tenths deficit to team-mate Charles Leclerc.

Sainz carries a great deal of momentum into the second round of the F1 2024 campaign in Saudi Arabia after making the podium at the Bahrain season opener, twice passing Leclerc to ensure he was Ferrari’s star of the show.

Ill Carlos Sainz not pushing the limits

It was a delayed start to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend for Sainz though, who was absent from media duties on Wednesday, Ferrari explaining that the Spaniard felt unwell and had therefore returned to his hotel.

And speaking to media after FP2, Sainz admitted it has been a “tough and difficult” last 24 hours, claiming his return for Thursday practice was not about pushing the limits, as he managed only P7 in the second session, just under three-tenths adrift of Leclerc.

“So obviously a very difficult day after feeling sick,” Sainz told media at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit after FP2. “The last 24 hours have been tough and difficult for me.

“Today was all about trying to get myself on track and learn as much as possible from the car without really pushing too much the limits, as I was still a bit on the non-ideal side.

“But we managed to complete the programme without issues. Hopefully tomorrow I’m feeling better. Even if probably will not be 100 per cent, but feeling better, that will allow me to be more on the limit and perform.

“The track is super high grip, high speed, so it also makes it tough from a physical point of view and it’s a lot more demanding for the car, but also for the driver.

“Tricky day as I said, but managed to get it done. Now we’ll go and take some breaths and come back tomorrow stronger.”

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With Sainz playing down the relevance of his lap times on Thursday, it was put to him that on his high-fuel run he was improving as the stint went on.

However, rather than putting this down to finding performance in the SF-24, Sainz said this was instead coming from his own improvement physically, so he once more downplayed the importance of this observation.

“This was more me than the car to be honest,” Sainz claimed. “That’s why today is very difficult to read into lap times.

“My long runs today were not the most ideal ones.”

Saturday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will mark the fourth staging of the event at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Read next – Saudi Arabian GP: Fernando Alonso tops FP2, Lewis Hamilton summoned to stewards