Oliver Bearman, Haas, 2023

Piastri showed private testing is best preparation for F1 debut – Bearman

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Oliver Bearman is expected to spend a second season in Formula 2 next year, but he says more Formula 1 testing would be the ideal way to graduate to grand prix racing.

The Ferrari junior came sixth in his rookie F2 campaign, winning four races and taking pole position three times. In October he made his F1 test debut at Ferrari’s Fiorano test track in a 2021 car, then was called up by Ferrari’s powertrain customer Haas to drive in free practice at the Mexican and Abu Dhabi grands prix as well as F1’s official post-season test.

He said he first run before driving in Mexico gave him “a bit of self-confidence, because for the first [practice] I had already driven an F1 car. I didn’t know where I stood, it was just me on track. It was nice that when I went there I was more or less competitive.”

He admitted he was “really nervous before that session, even if probably I tried not to show it,” but pleased with how it went. “I was quite happy that I kind of showed that I could be there and be close to these guys. That was probably the biggest lesson. But also, of course, the obvious ones of learning the track and the car and how the guys [at Haas] work as well.”

Oscar Piastri, Alpine Reserve Driver, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2022
Piastri tested for Alpine several times during 2022
After another hour in the car at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Beraman said he was “really happy” and even more convinced about having an F1 future.

“The goal of the [practice] was the exact same as Mexico: Just to bring the car back and increase my knowledge. And I did exactly that. I doubled my mileage in the F1 car, more or less. It was a really positive session. I felt like I got up to speed a lot quicker, I felt very comfortable in the car more easily. So it was just a positive day,” he said.

Having driven in the high-altitude, low-downforce conditions of Mexico City, Bearman confessed he was “quite shocked at the amount of grip” at the more conventional Yas Marina circuit.

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“When I started the first lap, I think I was three seconds off of my ultimate fast lap. And then I was like ‘well, okay, there’s a lot more grip here’. That was quite unexpected.

“After that I started to push, and it feels like the grip is just unlimited compared to what I’m used to driving. The car was just so planted and it really was breeding confidence. For that reason I was able to get up to speed really fast and what I had underneath me felt really good.”

Bearman is convinced he will be “ready to go” into F1 in 2025 if he gets the chance. “I know I have what it takes. Preparation would be important, and first of all I have to do a good job in F2. That’s step one. But I have no doubt that if I get a call-up, I’m ready to go.”

However he said the example of Oscar Piastri, who spent a year testing for Alpine before making a successful debut for McLaren, shows more running in a an F1 car is the best way to prepare for a grand prix debut.

“He showed that preparation is really important. Once you join F1, you’re going up against guys with a lot of races under their belt, and coming in as a rookie is a difficult job. It’s something that we’ve thought about and it will be really important that before I start an F1 campaign I need to be really prepared.

“So hopefully that looks like more FP1s and maybe some private testing as well [next year]. I don’t have any say on that. But in an ideal world, that would be how I approach an F1 season.”

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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9 comments on “Piastri showed private testing is best preparation for F1 debut – Bearman”

  1. The reserve driver should have more dedicated FP1s, like it was many years ago. That would make the reserve drive role much more important, and give seat time for the up and coming drivers at the same time, making the step/risk for putting a younger driver in your hot seat much smaller(which seems to be an issue today)

    Or maybe have the sprint races only with reserve drivers to see if theres any outstanding talents there, then I would actually watch them :)

    1. Agree with you mainly. Even Lawson put Max’s car 0.3 behind Perez FP1 ing. I know, irrelevant but experience is invaluable.
      Bearman seems to have a good head on his shoulders.
      Piastri doesn’t seem to be able to keep it up yet.
      Sprints nah. For me they diminish a GP weekend. Putting hopefuls in it diminishes it more imho.
      But I’m an old fogey.

    2. Or maybe have the sprint races only with reserve drivers to see if theres any outstanding talents there, then I would actually watch them :)

      Don’t you like watching the actual F1 drivers drive?

      If the teams want more drivers with experience in recent F1 cars, there’s nothing stopping them from putting those drivers in previous model cars at any private test session they wish to run. Entirely exempt from the budget cap and testing restrictions, too.

  2. To give young drivers experience in F1 they should let them do the sprint qualifying and races instead of the main drivers.

    I would think that to be more exciting – the sprint is then like a support race/event (for those races that do not have F2/F3 support races) but with actual F1 cars but only rookies are allowed and in this case 10 cars – 1 per team.

    Park ferme rules only apply after sprint race – just before qualifying for main race.

    1. All fun and games until your regular race drivers are unable to take part in GP qualifying because a rookie has wrecked it during the sprint race.

      1. Have the sprint after the Grand Prix, then.

  3. I agree with Peter Windsor that it would be nice if teams had third cars again and put young drivers in them on Fridays

    1. I thought that was a good solution too, although we should remember that teams often preferred to use dedicated test/reserve drivers rather than rookies with a genuine prospect of making it to F1 – recall McLaren using the likes of Gary Paffett and Pedro de la Rosa, and Toyota using Ricardo Zonta, for example. The rules would need to be carefully drafted to ensure the spots went to genuine rookies.

  4. Bearman seriously needs to win the Formula 2 title next year and then hopefully gets promoted to F1 via Williams!

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