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Sainz laments ‘toughest’ ever day in an F1 car as he battles sickness

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 6: Carlos Sainz of Spain and Scuderia Ferrari looks on during previews

Carlos Sainz has made it clear how tough the two Thursday practice sessions were for him in Saudi Arabia, after he was laid low with a stomach bug over the past few days.

The Spaniard had already missed his usual media duties on Wednesday, and was only confirmed as being fit to drive moments before FP1 got under way.

WATCH: Ride onboard as Alonso sets the fastest lap of Thursday practice in Saudi Arabia

“I’ve had a very rough last 24 hours if I’m honest,” said Sainz. “So, happy to manage to do this Thursday and complete the run plan but for sure it’s been my toughest day in a Formula 1 car at such a demanding circuit with high G-Force, and having a stomach bug and being sick is not ideal but hopefully for tomorrow I do a step better and hopefully for Sunday I’m 100% but I need some rest now.

“It was a struggle in FP1 all the way to FP2, especially the long runs when you do some continuous laps, my stomach didn’t really like it you know, at least I got a first feeling with the car even if I couldn’t push it to the absolute limit.

Ferrari's Spanish driver Carlos Sainz Jr talks to team members in the garage after the first

Sainz is hoping to feel better by the time the Grand Prix rolls around

"At least I got a good feeling and was able to feedback to my engineers and this will give me a decent base to work on tomorrow and hopefully tomorrow I can feel better.”

The Spaniard isn't the first driver to take to the track in a less than ideal state – George Russell did likewise with flu at the end of last season, while Lando Norris raced with tonsillitis in Spain for McLaren the year before.

Sainz gave a good account of himself considering his physical state, finishing sixth in FP1 and seventh in FP2, only a few tenths behind his team mate. And like many of his rivals, he thinks the field is only going to get closer tomorrow.

READ MORE: Verstappen predicts ‘very, very tight’ qualifying in Saudi Arabia

“Red Bull keep being strong at this track… Aston seems to have done a good step at this sort of track like they did last year and the Mercs again very, very tight, the McLarens also so it’s a group of five teams there again where we are all very, very close together.

“It’s a tricky track to keep the lap all together especially on the soft tyre which keeps a strange feeling over one lap so I hope we can, out of all those five teams, nail it tomorrow.”

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2024 Saudi Arabian GP FP1: Plastic bag on track gets caught in Leclerc’s Ferrari

As for his team mate, Charles Leclerc had a tricky moment to manage when he ran over a plastic bag which got caught around his suspension, the Monegasque driver lucky it didn’t go into a brake duct and cause bigger reliability concerns.

That aside, his was a more straightforward day – with Leclerc even going so far as to say he believed he’ll be in the hunt for pole tomorrow when asked directly.

“Feeling okay, there’s still quite a bit of work to do, everybody seems quite close even though Aston [Martin] looks really strong for now. I believe whenever we will go all in qualifying configurations, it will be all about the person that maximises their package.

“So, we need to make sure we do a step forward from today to tomorrow, we did all the tests we wanted today so let’s see for tomorrow.”

READ MORE: Horner 'certain' Verstappen will see out Red Bull contract until 2028 amid Mercedes rumours

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