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Ferrari's Carlos Sainz Jr. celebrates with his team after winning the Australian Grand Prix along with second placed Ferrari's Charles Leclerc and team principal Frederic Vasseur. Image Credit: Reuters

Melbourne: Carlos Sainz said he was savouring the moment Sunday after a “rollercoaster” start to the season culminated in a fighting victory at the Australian Grand Prix.

The 29-year-old Spaniard started the year being informed he had been dumped by Ferrari to make way for Lewis Hamilton next season, leaving him without a drive in 2025.

He responded with a podium place in the opening race of the year in Bahrain before being struck down with appendicitis ahead of Saudi Arabia.

Surgery and a bed-ridden week later, he pulled off a remarkable win in Melbourne after many doubted he should even be in the car so soon.

“It’s not only the last two weeks. It’s the whole start to the year in general, how the year started with the news of the non-renewal,” said Sainz, reflecting on a whirlwind 2024.

“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, you’re missing a race in Jeddah and the operation.”

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Ferrari's Spanish driver Carlos Sainz Jr drives during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Strict recovery regime

Sainz said he was unsure whether he could recover in time to be back in the cockpit just two weeks later.

But he was determined to try and followed a strict recovery regime, spending time in a hyperbaric chamber twice a day and programming how long he exercised and what he ate.

“Obviously, a lot of unknowns. Am I going to be back fit? Am I going to be back feeling still good with the car?,” he said.

“And then suddenly you come back and win. So, yes, life is a rollercoaster sometimes, but it can be really nice and good to you sometimes. (I’m) just letting it sink in and enjoying the moment.”

While Sainz has no seat yet for 2025, his teammate Charles Leclerc said he was certain to be snapped up.

“He’s one of the highest rated drivers in the paddock and he’s been extremely strong every time he has been in a Formula One car and has shown it multiple times,” Leclerc said.

“That’s why I’m not too worried about his future, I’m sure he will have many opportunities and he will have to just make the best choice for his career.”