Home » F1 news: Fresh Carlos Sainz fitness concern on eve of Australian Grand Prix return

F1 news: Fresh Carlos Sainz fitness concern on eve of Australian Grand Prix return

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz is still “not moving freely” and may not be “ready for the rigours” of an F1 race ahead of his planned return at the Australian Grand Prix, it has been claimed.

Sainz was ruled out of the last race in Saudi Arabia after appendix surgery, with Ferrari reserve driver Oliver Bearman taking his place and finishing seventh on the streets of Jeddah.

Carlos Sainz ‘not moving freely’ ahead of Australian GP comeback

The Spanish star is aiming to return to action at this weekend’s Australian GP and has travelled to Melbourne with the ambition of retaking his place in the Ferrari cockpit, with Ferrari themselves stating: “Carlos Sainz is expected to be back in the car.”

However, fresh concerns have been raised after Sainz was spotted “not moving freely” by F1 photographer Kym Illman, who after speaking to the 29-year-old is not convinced he will be ready to return this weekend.

In a social media post, Illman wrote: “Twelve days ago, Carlos Sainz had his appendix removed in Jeddah. Today [Wednesday] I photographed him in the Albert Park paddock after he returned from riding the track on a bicycle with his crew.

“After getting off his bike, it looked to me like he was not moving freely.

“I spoke to him for a couple of minutes and I’m not 100 per cent sure his body is ready for the rigours of an F1 race.”

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Illman revealed Sainz is planning tweaks to his cockpit – including using padding under the buckle of his seat belt – to make him feel more comfortable in the car at Albert Park.

He added: “He showed his keyhole surgery scar to a handful of crew out the back of the garage and then explained his plan to reduce some of the pressure on his stomach using padding under his seat belt buckle.”

Illman was left with the impression that Sainz will likely participate in Friday’s opening free practice before deciding how to proceed for the rest of the weekend.

However, with F2 on the support bill this weekend, Illman claimed Bearman’s F2 team Prema do not have a reserve driver on standby in case the teenager is once again called up to replace Sainz.

“I think he will do FP1 and see how his body handles it,” Illman said of Sainz.

“If he’s at risk of doing further damage, he’ll have to step aside and let Ollie Bearman race again.

“Someone did tell me, though, that Prema have not brought a reserve driver to Australia which would suggest they’re of the opinion Ollie won’t be needed in the Ferrari.”

Speaking to media after the Saudi Arabian GP, Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur strongly indicated a decision on whether Sainz would race in Australia before flying out to Melbourne, claiming he was “optimistic” the Spaniard would make a quick return after an “amazing” start to his recovery.

Asked if Sainz was certain to race at Albert Park, Vasseur said: “I don’t know, honestly.

“The recovery so far is amazing but the fact that he was able to come to be with the team was a very good sign and a very good support for us.

“Now he will fly back with me and have one week of complete rest. We’ll take a decision on when he has to fly to Melbourne in one week’s time, but I’m quite optimistic.”

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