F1: Jeremy Clarkson says modern cars are too easy to drive after Carlos Sainz win

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A great cheer thundered through the Albert Park stands when Max Verstappen’s car started billowing smoke at the Melbourne Grand Prix last weekend.

For keen followers of the sport, it was a sight for sore eyes as the three-time world champion was passed by Ferrari star Carlos Sainz, who had pulled off a spectacular qualifying effort on Saturday.

Sainz, who had missed the last race undergoing appendix surgery, went on to win the race and put a brief stopper on the Red Bull freight train that has completely dominated the sport for over two years.

Sainz’s performance will go down as one of the most impressive drives in the modern era, besting his teammate Charles Leclerc while still wearing bandages under his race suit.

But former Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson isn’t buying into the hype.

In a recent column for The Sun, Clarkson took Sainz’s win as an opportunity to criticise the modernisation of the sport, claiming no man recovering from surgery should be capable of winning a Grand Prix.

The high-tech nature of the sport has seen the cars develop from what were essentially 500 horsepower coffins on wheels into the manicured technological marvels they are today.

For many stalwart fans reminiscing of an age where drivers had to muscle their machine through corners with certain death looking in them in the eye, the modern era is a little too sanitised.

Clarkson, clearly in this camp, questioned whether the modern cars needed a “superhuman” to drive them these days, and claimed “walking up to a Formula 1 car is actually harder these days than driving it”.

“Naturally, many people saw this as a heroic display of stiff-upper-lip determination and spunk,” Clarkson wrote.

“I wonder, though. We keep being told that these F1 cars are road-going fighter jets. That they are a volcanic orgy of noise and G-forces. And that you need to be superhuman to control one.

“Really? I only ask because Carlos, pictured in hospital, was plainly in some discomfort before the race but he seemed to manage for nearly two hours in the car.

“Which leads me to believe that walking up to a Formula 1 car is actually harder these days than driving it.”

Sainz revealed fellow driver Alex Albon had warned him what to expect after returning to the car post-surgery. Albon had missed the 2022 Italian Grand Prix with the same affliction.

“I feel like it’s exactly what Alex told me before jumping in the car,” Sainz said.

“He said when he got his appendix removed, just with the G-force, everything on the inside just feels like it’s moving more than normal.

“You need some confidence to brace the core and the body as you used to do before, but you get used to it.

“There is no pain, there is nothing to worry about. It’s just a weird feeling that you have to get used to while driving.

“Especially the circuits where we’re pulling five or six G in some of the braking zones and corners. Obviously, everything is moving but without pain and I can deal with it and I can adapt to it also.”

Sainz had more than a few reasons to show his guts last weekend in Melbourne. The bombshell news that Lewis Hamilton would be moving to Ferrari next year meant he is now without a seat for 2025.

There has been interest shown by major teams including Red Bull, but it is still very much a wait-and-see situation for the Spaniard. While his teammate Leclerc, who has the longer contract, has out-qualified him over the course of their partnership, Sainz has done more than enough to be considered one of the strongest drivers on the grid.

F1 heads to Suzuka in Japan this weekend for the fourth round of the 2024 championship.

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