Oliver Bearman, Ferrari, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2024

Leclerc praises substitute Bearman’s “incredible job” in qualifying

Formula 1

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Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc says Oliver Bearman did an “incredible job” to qualify 11th on the grid for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The 18-year-old participated in his first ever grand prix qualifying session in Jeddah as an emergency stand in for Carlos Sainz Jnr after the Ferrari driver was struck with appendicitis.

Bearman was three-hundredths of a second away from reaching Q3, beaten by the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. Leclerc reached Q3 split the Red Bulls in Q3 to secure a front row start. Leclerc said he was impressed by the performance of the team’s reserve driver.

“First of all, I hope Carlos will recover quickly,” Leclerc said. “Then on Ollie’s side, I mean, he’s done an incredible job, obviously, with only one session in FP3.

“He was straight up to speed and comfortable with the car. So it’s good. I’m happy for him, obviously.

“It’s a very special day – the first race in Ferrari having done only one session, I guess is even more special. So I hope that tomorrow we can have a great race, both of us and score good points for the team.”

Leclerc tried an unconventional double warm-up lap on his first attempt in the final phase of qualifying, then improved by almost half a second with his final effort to qualify highest behind pole winner Max Verstappen

“The first lap in Q3, we tried something different doing a preparation lap, but that didn’t work out well for us,” Leclerc explained.

“Then in the second lap I put everything together and that was what was in the car today. So I’m really happy with the lap. A shame that we are a bit further away than what we hoped in qualifying, but tomorrow’s the race and I hope we’ll have a good surprise and that we’ll be able to challenge the Red Bulls in front.”

While Leclerc does not expect to challenge Red Bull for victory in the race, he is more confident in the race pace of his Ferrari than he was with last year’s car.

“For sure we did a step forward compared to last year,” he said. “I feel more comfortable in the car.

“I think the car is in a better place in race runs, so we just have to focus on ourselves. Obviously we cannot change the car now for tomorrow, so we’ll try and optimise everything else for the race and then let’s see what’s possible tomorrow.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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2 comments on “Leclerc praises substitute Bearman’s “incredible job” in qualifying”

  1. That would have been pretty epic if he had taken Lewis out of Q3. Race pace will probably suffer due to his lack of running on these tires, but anything is possible.

  2. Starting in the middle of the pack the first couple of laps should be interesting. He’ll need his eyes to be darting everywhere. Good luck to the young fella.

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