Motor Sports

Sainz says Melbourne front-row after surgery feels unbelievable

MELBOURNE: Ferrari ace Carlos Sainz admitted Saturday he could barely believe he was on the front row of the Australian Grand Prix just two weeks after surgery.

The Spaniard pulled out of the last race in Saudi Arabia to have an operation for appendicitis and spent the next 10 days in recovery.

He tentatively returned on Friday for opening practice in Melbourne, unsure how his body would cope with the g-forces of high-speed racing.

But he persevered and will start alongside Red Bull's world champion Max Verstappen on Sunday, having been disappointed to miss pole position after being fastest in Q1 and Q2 qualifying.

"I was almost not believing it, especially after how tough it's been," he said.

"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 feeling good with a car.

"I'm not going lie, I'm not in my most comfortable state when I'm driving out there, but I can get it done. A lot of discomfort and weird feelings but no pain, so it allows me to push flat out."

Sainz came third behind Verstappen and the Dutchman's Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez at the opening race of the season in Bahrain.

Williams driver Alex Albon suffered from appendicitis in 2022 and Sainz sought him out for advice on what to expect when he returned to racing.

"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 and 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, there is nothing to worry about. It's just a weird feeling that you have to get used to while driving.

"Especially on this circuit, we're pulling five to six Gs in some of the braking zones and corners."

Sainz is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season to make way for seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who will leave Mercedes.--AFP

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