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sainz

Sainz: Hopefully my body holds on for the entire race

sainz

Carlos Sainz laid out his expectations for the 2024 Australian Grand Prix after securing a front-row start ahead of Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc in Qualifying in Melbourne on Saturday.

The Spaniard’s fastest lap during Q3 was good enough for second position, behind the dominant Max Verstappen who made it a hat-trick of pole positions in 2024.

Nevertheless, Sainz soundly beat the other Ferrari of ace-qualifier Leclerc during the session and performed better than expected given his recent surgery to remove an inflamed appendix.

He missed the preceding Saudi Arabian Grand Prix suffering from appendicitis, and was replaced by 18-year-old prodigy Oliver Bearman. While the young Briton impressed with P7 on his Formula 1 debut, Bearman returned to his usual Formula 2 duties for round three of the Championship.

Sainz admitted that he was still feeling discomfort during the three free practice sessions over Friday and Saturday, making it all the more impressive that he managed to muscle his SF-24 onto the front row.

The 29-year-old looked back on the last few weeks in a positive light, saying: “From missing the race in Jeddah to this P2 in two weeks, it’s been an interesting journey to say the least! I’m very happy because coming to Australia I wasn’t even sure I was going to make it.

“We have managed to progress steadily session after session, knowing that the target was to arrive as prepared as possible for qualifying. I tried everything to get pole in the last lap but it’s impossible to be disappointed with today’s result given the circumstances”, he added.

Sainz, who finished P12 last year in Melbourne on a bad day for Ferrari, this time around  is hoping that with a good night’s sleep, he will be raring to go come the race on Sunday. He continued: “Hopefully the body holds on during the entire race. As long as I have no pain and with the extra motivation from today, I will fight to get a good result tomorrow.”

Leclerc less upbeat

Leclerc less upbeat ferrari f1

Teammate Leclerc appeared to struggle more with the balance of his Ferrari compared to Sainz. The Monegasque was forced to abandon his final flying lap as he lost rear grip through the final sector, pulling into the pits instead of completing the tour.

In the end, Leclerc was even beaten by the McLaren of Lando Norris, winding up in fifth position.

Here’s what Charles had to say about the session: “I just didn’t find the right feeling today, starting from FP3. In qualifying, the front wasn’t as strong as I wanted, so I went aggressive with the front wing on my last run and ultimately, it didn’t work out.”

With better race pace, Leclerc expects to move up the running order over the course of the 58-lap event. He continued: “With a good start, and if I get past Lando (Norris), we can focus on fighting the cars in front together with Carlos.

“The race is long and there are 4 DRS zones at this track, so overtaking is possible. Let’s see what we can bring home,” added Leclerc, who last year did not complete a lap of the race in Melbourne after a first-lap collision.

The Australian Grand Prix will take place at 04:00 GMT (15:00 local time) around the Albert Park Circuit on Sunday, March 24th, the Scuderia closer to the pace-setting Red Bulls than they have been for a while.