24 hours before the start of the Russian Grand Prix, Carlos Sainz Jr. was sat in a hospital bed following one of the most frightening crashes of his racing career.
And yet by the time the checkered flag had been shown at the Sochi Autodrom, the Spaniard was left ruing a brake failure that had denied him a big haul of points and a remarkable comeback result.
Sainz had crashed into the barrier at turn 13 during practice on Saturday morning, recording a force of 46G. However, he remained perfectly conscious throughout the accident, with his extrication only taking longer than usual due to the position of the TecPro barriers.
After being taken to hospital for a full body scan and other checks, Sainz was discharged on Saturday night and given the green light to take part in the race on Sunday by the FIA, starting 20th.
A superb fight through the field saw Sainz rise to as high as P7 late on, only for a brake failure to send him spinning off the track twice and deny him a chance to record his best F1 finish to date.
“What a disappointing way to end what was being such a good race, but I have to say that I’m happy I could race after what happened yesterday,” Sainz said on Sunday.
“Today’s was a good performance in difficult conditions. I started from P20, pushed hard and suddenly I found myself in P7… We could’ve even ended in P6!
“Towards the end of the race I was warned to look after my brakes as the temperatures were very high and I was managing to do that while still racing at a good pace. Unfortunately, with only eight laps to go the brakes said ‘enough’ at Turn 13 and that was the end of my race.
“I have to be thankful to the whole team, they did a great job for me to be racing out there today after yesterday’s crash. The car was in perfect conditions. Now I will certainly get some rest during the next couple of days!”
Max Verstappen inadvertently benefited from Sainz’s issue, finishing 11th on track before being promoted to P10 when Fernando Alonso was handed a post-race penalty.
The Dutchman was disappointed after a first-lap clash forced him to pit for repairs and compromised the rest of his race.
“I’m disappointed,” Sainz said. “It certainly wasn’t the best of race starts, as I got clipped because the cars in front of me crashed and from then on it was a very difficult race.
“I had a lot of damage on the car, especially at the rear, and it wasn’t behaving as it should’ve been. It was very difficult for me to continue, but we tried to, hoping we could get back into the points, even though in the end it wasn’t possible.”