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Carlos Sainz

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

The Spanish driver underwent surgery to remove his appendix only two weeks ago.

Sainz Australia
To news overview © XPBimages

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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