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2024 F1 Australian Grand Prix: Will Carlos Sainz race for Ferrari after surgery?

Carlos Sainz was forced to pull out of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah after he fell ill with appendicitis which required surgery.

Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, visits the team doctor

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

The Australian Grand Prix will take place at the Albert Park circuit this weekend and Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur has revealed that Ollie Bearman will be on hand to jump into Sainz’s car if needed. The F2 driver was called up to the F1 team at the Saudi Arabian GP from Friday’s sessions after Sainz became unwell.

Sainz participated in the Thursday practice sessions despite feeling unwell and he described it as one of his “toughest days in a Formula 1 car”. On Friday morning Ferrari then announced the Spaniard would not race after suffering from appendicitis, which required immediate surgery.

The team then confirmed later in the day that he had safely made it through surgery and the following day Sainz was seen back in the paddock to watch the grand prix.

Will Carlos Sainz race at the 2024 Australian Grand Prix?

Carlos Sainz has flown to Melbourne ahead of this weekend's grand prix and is expected to drive his Ferrari in the race. Following the race in Jeddah, team boss Vasseur said he “didn’t know” if Sainz would be ready for a potential return this weekend but he was “quite optimistic”, adding: “The recovery so far is amazing, the fact he was able to come today to be with the team is a good sign, and a very good support for us.

Vasseur also told Sky Germany that they are taking the Spaniard’s recovery on a “step by step” basis and that a decision on whether Sainz will compete will be made this week.

On Thursday, the Ferrari driver will undergo a mandatory medical evaluation by the FIA, including an extraction exercise to ensure he is fit to drive at the weekend. The extraction test will require him to unbuckle himself and remove the steering wheel within seven seconds before being given another five seconds to exit the car and put the wheel back in its place.

Ferrari said on Wednesday: "Carlos Sainz is expected to be back in the car, having had to miss Jeddah with appendicitis and he and team-mate Charles Leclerc will most likely be fighting at the front of the field, as they have done in the first two rounds." 

Oliver Bearman, Scuderia Ferrari

Oliver Bearman, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Will Ollie Bearman stand in for Carlos Sainz at the Australian Grand Prix?

If the Spaniard is unable to pass the FIA medical test then Bearman will relinquish his Formula 2 role once again, to stand in for Ferrari. The 18-year-old British driver impressed many in Jeddah when he finished seventh, scoring six points in the drivers’ championship.

Bearman is also the reserve driver for Haas, with the new team principal Ayao Komatsu saying that the Brit “deserves a chance next year” but a seat for 2025 was not guaranteed. Bearman said: “I don’t know what else I can do, because I don’t think I’ll be in F1 for the rest of the year.” Before adding: “That is all I can do, keep pushing in F2 and cross my fingers”.

The Essex-born teenager is set to undertake six FP1 sessions for Haas during the 2024 season, starting at the Emilia Romagna GP in May. The test sessions are part of an agreement that is expected to be an evaluation to see if he could join the American team next year. Bearman said he was “looking forward to building up a relationship with them and gaining more miles in the car” and was also hoping “a door can open” for him.

How long does it take to recover from appendicitis?

Sainz suffered from appendicitis just days before the Saudi Arabian GP. The condition is an infection of the appendix which causes it to become inflamed and can cause severe abdominal pain.

If appendicitis is left untreated, the appendix could burst which can result in a severe infection, or in the worst-case scenario, death. The main treatment for the condition is surgery to remove the appendix, which is normally keyhole surgery called a laparoscopy if the appendix hasn’t burst.

The recovery period for an appendicectomy is around two to four weeks but can be longer if the appendix has burst.

The last time an F1 driver suffered appendicitis was in 2022 when Alex Albon was forced to not participate in the Italian Grand Prix. Due to his need for surgery, the British-Thai driver was replaced in his Williams seat by Nyck de Vries.

Alex Albon, Williams FW44

Alex Albon, Williams FW44

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

Albon then returned two weeks later at the following race weekend in Singapore but revealed he was “as fit as can be” and found the race “tough”. Following the end of the season, Albon was asked if he was back to 100% fitness, where he said: “I would say [I need the] winter to get to 100%. We didn’t have the time to train to really get back that fitness, so yes.

“But realistically speaking, Singapore was tough, Japan was 75%, and after Japan, I felt pretty good.”

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