Oliver Bearman, Haas, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2023

Bearman has ‘no doubt’ he could compete in F1 after impressing Haas in practice run

Formula 1

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Oliver Bearman believes he is good enough to reach Formula 1 after impressing on his practice debut at the Mexican Grand Prix.

The Formula 2 driver ran in Kevin Magnussen’s Haas in the opening Friday practice session at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Bearman ended the hour session with the 15th-fastest time, within half a second of team-mate Nico Hulkenberg’s best lap.

Bearman, a Ferrari academy driver, is currently sixth in his debut F2 campaign after four victories this season with one round remaining.

When asked if he is confident of reaching F1, the 18-year-old replied: “I believe that I have what it takes, in my mind there’s no doubt about that.

“But that’s not all you need to get to F1, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes. So, I’ve just got to keep focusing on myself. I have to do a good job next year in F2 and if that’s enough, that’s enough. If it’s not, then I don’t know what to say.”

All teams are obliged to run a rookie driver in both of their cars in at least practice session during a season. Bearman was the highest placed F2 driver of the five who participated in FP1. He also completed more laps than the other F2 drivers, putting 31 laps in the car to achieve his own target for his first F1 outing.

“My first goal was to have a clean session and we did that, which is the main thing,” said Bearman. “So I’m really happy to have just delivered a clean session to start with. Second of all, I got up to speed quite fast.

“I felt I had really good confidence with the car and more or less I’m happy. There’s always a few things, it was my first time doing everything, my first time on the soft tyre, my first long run. So I would do better the second time but for the first time, I was quite happy.”

While pleased with his own performance, Haas trackside engineer director Ayao Komatsu revealed Bearman had impressed the team with his behaviour outside of the car as well.

“I don’t think you can fault him, he’s done really well,” said Komatsu. “But all the way from the initial preparation, he’s been very professional. Very, very easy to deal with in every single process, I have nothing to complain [about].

“Then today with the calmness, procedures he understood, he understood the objectives of every single run. He didn’t put a foot wrong, really. I mean, he didn’t maximise the soft tyre. That lap-time difference, Nico’s lap wasn’t great either so you can’t read too much into it.

“But in terms of his feedback, it was really good, engagement with his engineers, really, really good job. Really impressed.”

Komatsu says the team were surprised by how the 18-year-old handled the demands of being a Formula 1 driver.

“Honestly, I can’t pick a moment from all the way through that preparation where something was frustrating or difficult, including his management,” he said. “It’s been a really smooth process. It’s been a pleasure to work with him and his management team.”

Bearman will next drive for Haas in FP1 at next month’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and Komatsu hopes his F1 outings do not stop there.

“I really can’t fault him today,” he added. “He’s got another session planned in Abu Dhabi. So really looking forward to that and then hopefully more sessions next year as well. So it’s very promising.”

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Ed Hardy
In 2019, Ed started working on Formula 1 writing articles during race weekends. Alongside that, he also built up experience in football working on...

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