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British teen Bearman replaces sick Sainz for Ferrari at Saudi Arabia GP

Spain’s Carlos Sainz has been ruled out of the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix this weekend with appendicitis with 18-year-old British reserve driver Oliver Bearman taking his place, the Ferrari team announced Friday. 

“Carlos Sainz has been diagnosed with appendicitis and will require surgery,” the Italian team said in a statement.

“Oliver will therefore take no further part in this round of the F2 Championship. The Ferrari family wishes Carlos a speedy recovery.”

Sainz, 29, had been suffering for several days, but took part in free practice on Friday, ahead of the second race of the season on Saturday.

The absence of Sainz, who is losing his seat to Lewis Hamilton next season, is a major blow to Ferrari as he was the only driver other than Red Bull to win a Grand Prix in 2023 in Singapore.

Bearman, who was to take part in the F2 race on the Saudi track, will compete in his first Formula One Grand Prix.

Sainz, who finished third in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix last Saturday, had skipped press activities on Wednesday and appeared to suffer during the first two free practice sessions on Thursday, despite performing well.

“It has been a very difficult day for me as I haven’t fully recovered from the sickness that has kept me in bed for the last 24 hours and I still feel very weak,” Sainz said in a statement.

“Anyway, I made it to the track and managed to maximise the time with the car and the team. This track has a lot of grip and the high speed corners makes it very demanding for cars and drivers. 

“Even though I couldn’t push to the limit today, at least we completed the programme and hopefully tomorrow I will be fully recovered and we can focus on qualifying and the race.”

But on Friday he was finally forced to withdraw and leave his place to Bearman, who will experience an unexpected baptism of fire. 

Sixth in the F2 championship last season with the Prema Racing team, Bearman drove a Haas F1 car last season during two testing sessions at the Mexican and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. 

He also took part in a test in Fiorano, Italy at the wheel of an SF21, the 2021 Ferrari single-seater.

Bearman will participate in the third free practice session on Friday and qualifying, before competing in the Grand Prix on Saturday night. 

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