Sainz ruled fit to race in Russia after heavy crash

SOCHI, Russia (AP) Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr. has been declared fit to compete in the Russian Grand Prix after a high-speed crash in practice left him in hospital.

Sainz's car penetrated the barriers in the heavy crash at the 90-degree right-handed turn 13 during Saturday's final practice session in Sochi and he was airlifted to hospital, missing the qualifying session.

Sainz had originally been expected to spend the night in hospital but he was released Saturday evening. The Spanish driver, 21, said Sunday he was uninjured but feeling stiff, though ''nothing a painkiller cannot kill'', and thanked the medical staff who had looked after him.

''I think everyone did a perfect job and I think that's why I'm so fit today to drive and so positive,'' he said. ''Obviously turn 13 on the first lap will be a bit emotional, but from then on it will all go back to normal and I'm more than ready to race.''

The FIA said Sainz was examined by medical officials Sunday morning at the on-track medical center in Sochi and declared fit to race.

Sainz's crash prompted fears over driver safety after his car went under the barriers, leaving sections of barrier covering the cockpit.

''It will come out for sure in the next drivers' briefing,'' Sainz said. ''It's something for sure that we need to keep looking (at). I was for sure lucky that nothing happened to me. It took a while to get me out, but just to let you know, I was always conscious, knowing what was going on.''

Sainz's car has been almost completely rebuilt for the race, with a new engine, gearbox and floor all required after the head-on impact, and is due to start 20th and last.

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