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Oliver Bearman's Remarkable F1 Debut

f1 grand prix of saudi arabia
Oliver Bearman's Remarkable F1 DebutKym Illman - Getty Images

Oliver Bearman’s last-minute F1 debut in the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix ended with an impressive seventh-place finish. Ahead of the likes of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.

Bearman woke up Friday morning dreaming of his F2 race and the pole position he earned, he was quickly told that he would not be competing in any more F2 race activity this weekend and instead was thrown into the deep end of F1 as the replacement driver for Carlos Sainz Jr. at Ferrari.

Sainz was announced out of the Saudi Arabia race weekend after he was diagnosed with appendicitis and heading into immediate surgery for removal. Bearman has been a Ferrari Academy driver since racing F3 in 2021 and is currently in his second year in the F2 series racing for Prema.

Bearman was announced as Sainz’s replacement hours before the final practice of the weekend. The 18-year-old driver had less than an hour in an F1 car on one of the most physical tracks on the F1 schedule to prepare for Friday’s qualifying and Saturday’s race.

At 18 years old, Bearman is four years younger than Oscar Piastri, the youngest F1 driver on the grid for 2o24.

It showed maturity and composure beyond his years for Bearman to pull off his weekend performance.

Bearman maintained race pace in Free Practice 3, the only practice he participated in, and missed Qualifying 3 by only.003 seconds, behind Hamilton.

This set the scene for Bearman to start just one spot behind a point-paying position in his first F1 start. Bearman kept his cool at the start of the race and on lap 14 he passed Zhou Guanyu for 10th, and moved up to ninth, seven laps later.

Early in the race, Lance Stroll hit the wall and the grid was forced to run a safety car lap. Most drivers headed to the pits for their first stop, Norris and Hamilton were two of the few to stay out. As the laps winded down the two drivers who were running in the top five at the time had to perform their pit stop. The duo came out of pit lane with Norris in eighth and Hamilton in ninth and Bearman inherited seventh position

Bearman was able to hold seventh for the final 14 laps to cement his amazing debut weekend.

f1 grand prix of saudi arabia
Kym Illman - Getty Images

Bearman's temporary teammate Charles Leclerc finished on the final step of the podium behind the two Red Bull drivers to collect his first podium of the year and 15 points for himself and Ferrari. Bearman's seventh-place finish added six points to Ferrari's constructor's battle and their bubble above McLaren and Mercedes.

“He’s done an incredible job," Leclerc said on Bearman's debut. "Already from FP 3, he was straight on the pace. In qualifying he did a great job and missed Q3 by so little. Today he’s been incredible, I mean seventh in your first race in Formula 1 only having done FP3, in a new car, it’s just hugely impressive. I’m sure that he’s extremely proud.”

Next week, Sainz is set to reclaim his seat for the Australian Grand Prix. Bearman will have his work cut out for him in his return to F2 as a missed race virtually knocks a driver out of the championship battle. Bearman shouldn't be too worried about his future as the 2024/2025 silly season is already heating up to be one of the wildest yet.

“Everyone has noticed how talented he is", Leclerc said. "I guess it’s just a matter of time before he comes here in Formula 1.”




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