Melbourne win extra special for Sainz after ‘roller coaster’ start to 2024

Carlos Sainz says his future departure from Ferrari and recent appendicitis both add to the special feeling he got from his victory in the Australian Grand Prix.

Just 16 days after undergoing surgery to have his appendix removed in Saudi Arabia, Sainz started on the front row in Melbourne and took a remarkable win as he passed Max Verstappen on lap 2 before the championship leader retired. Sainz was comfortable in the lead after that point, and says the win shows how quickly situations can changed as he won the third race after it was announced he’ll be replaced by Lewis Hamilton in 2025.

“I think it’s not only the last two weeks, you know, it’s the whole start of the year in general, how the year started with the news of the non-renewal,” Sainz said. “Then you get yourself fit, you get yourself ready for the start of the season, pushing flat out. And then you get to Bahrain, you do a good podium, you say, ‘OK, now the season is starting well and I can keep the momentum going.’


“And suddenly, boom, missing a race in Jeddah and the operation. Long, long days in bed, not knowing if I was going to be back in time. Obviously a lot of unknowns. Am I going to be back fit? Am I going to be back feeling still good with the car? And then suddenly you come back and win.

“So yes, what I said on the radio, you know, life is a roller coaster sometimes, but it can be really nice and good to you sometimes. And just letting it sink in and enjoying the moment.”

Sainz took the lead after Verstappen ran wide at Turn 3 as a brake issue worsened, but the Spaniard believes he also had the car to put pressure on Red Bull regardless of Verstappen’s issues.

“I got a decent start from the dirty side of the grid, but obviously couldn’t put Max under pressure into Turn 1, but from there on it was a kind of a very strategic first lap and a half where you are wanting to protect the tire from opening up the graining,” he said. “But at the same time, I knew this weekend and this race, I could have the pace to challenge Max. And I thought to myself, with how powerful the DRS is around here, if I get myself within the DRS range after lap 1, we can put him a bit under pressure.

“I think he did a mistake into Turn 3 that allowed me to stay within the DRS and I could feel myself being pretty quick. I don’t know when his brakes started to go, but in dirty air, obviously, it’s not the same than in clean air with a big gap.

“I saw him… obviously pushing on lap 1 and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to push with him too and challenge in the car.’ But obviously it could have been the brakes, as he said. So, I don’t know, honestly, but it felt good to pass him, with brake issues or not, because it is tough to pass Max and the Red Bull.

“It’s what we’ve said from the beginning — if you are there and you can put Red Bull under pressure, you can sometimes get it done. But you need to be there — and we need to be there more often if we want to win.”

Story originally appeared on Racer