Sainz delivers Bearman praise after ‘not a nice feeling’

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Carlos Sainz believes stand-in Oliver Bearman did himself proud after stepping into the Spaniard’s Ferrari at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

An unwell Sainz pushed himself through Thursday practice, only to eventually be diagnosed with appendicitis that forced him into hospital for surgery on qualifying day.

With just two hours’ notice, 18-year-old Academy driver Bearman, who had scored pole position for the F2 feature race the day before, acquitted himself superbly in his sole practice session in the SF24 before missing out on a place in Q3 by 0.036s to Lewis Hamilton.

Just over 24 hours after his operation, Sainz was back in the paddock to offer his support to Bearman and his race engineers, even though he concedes it was “not a nice feeling” watching another driver in his car.

“Not being able to race, especially after such a strong start to the season, seeing how competitive the car was in Jeddah and doing the calculations as to how many points you’ve lost by the surgery, and also knowing that even for the next race [in Australia], you’re not going to be able to go to the simulator to prepare, and not going to be able to train for 14 days, it’s not ideal,” said Sainz, speaking to media including RacingNews365.

“But at the same time the doctors recommended me to go for a walk after the operation. I said rather than walking in my hotel room, I will walk into the paddock and watch the race with my engineers, learn something and help Ollie and my engineers with anything I can.”

Bearman went on to claim a fine seventh on his debut, finishing ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Hamilton. Assessing his performance, Sainz added: “Ollie did great. He did a really, really good job.

“I agree with Charles [Leclerc] that it’s also thanks to the way these drivers are prepared nowadays, with the amount of [time in the] simulator, and the amount of testing that we do with the old cars. It is possible to do what he did thanks to that.

“But under pressure, only FP3 to get it done, and he got it done really well. So I think he did great.”

I’m not stupid

Sainz has expressed confidence he will be able to get through the weekend at Melbourne’s Albert Park, although he will not be 100 percent as he has been unable to train over the past two weeks.

The Spaniard is adamant he will make a call on whether he can cope, in tandem with the FIA.

“By seeing me move and the exercises I’m doing in the gym and everything, this tells me I’m fit to jump in the car tomorrow and try,” insisted Sainz.

“But obviously, I’m not stupid, and if I don’t feel good tomorrow, I’ll be the first one to raise my hand and say that I need another two weeks to the next race.

“Together with the FIA, this is also the plan we have in place, I have another check with the FIA tomorrow. They are monitoring my progress.

“But I’m the first one who doesn’t want to be in pain, to suffer or to make it any worse. I’m not stupid, and I will be very clear with how I’m feeling and everything.

“With the amount of training I did over winter, and how fit I was in Jeddah and Bahrain, thanks to that, I feel like I’m going to be fit tomorrow. It’s not like in two weeks you lose muscle or aerobic capacity.

“It’s not the same as spending 10 days training, like I would have done, and going to the simulator. That’s why I say I’m not going to be 100% fitness level, peak, but fit enough to race. I think that will not be a limitation.”

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