Sainz has lofty target in his sights after ‘a good night’s sleep’

Carlos Sainz is targeting pole position for the Australian Grand Prix on his return from appendicitis following a strong Friday for Ferrari.

Sainz was forced to sit out the last race in Saudi Arabia after requiring surgery to remove his appendix, with Oliver Bearman deputising and delivering a respectable seventh.

The Spanish driver returned to the cockpit on Friday – two weeks to the day since his surgery – for practice in Melbourne, finishing the two sessions in eighth and third, respectively.

Team-mate Charles Leclerc set a blistering pace in the second session to beat Max Verstappen by 0.381s, and Sainz by a further 0.049s. The two-time grand prix winner is certain he can be in the hunt for his first pole position at Melbourne’s Albert Park.

“I feel okay, obviously a bit tired after a full day of practice, not being 100 percent physically but I felt like I had a good day, and I managed to complete the whole programme,” said Sainz.

“If you would have told me a week ago that I could do the whole practice without any issues, I would have been very happy, and I am very happy about that.

“I need a good night’s sleep and a good recovery for tomorrow, but I feel good.”

Assessing his performance at the wheel of his SF24, in particular to team-mate Leclerc, Sainz added: “Charles looked very quick, and on my side, I took it step-by-step, getting up into a rhythm.

“I wasn’t at the limit of the car or the limit of myself yet but I think with more laps and getting a bit more confident, I will be faster tomorrow and the battle for the pole position against him and everyone else.

“It is going to be tight [in qualifying], in FP2 we made a good step, but I think qualifying is going to be like FP1 [with the top five separated by less than a tenth].”


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