Oliver Bearman, Ferrari, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2024

Oliver Bearman

Oliver Bearman’s surprise Formula 1 debut came about when Ferrari found itself in need of a reserve driver for the second race of 2024.

Having been named as one of the team’s three reserve drivers two months earlier, Bearman got the call-up when regular driver Carlos Sainz Jnr was diagnosed with appendicitis during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend. Bearman, who was at the track competing in the Formula 2 round, took over the SF-24 from the third practice session.

Bearman’s route to F1

Ferrari hired Bearman to its young driver programme two years earlier on the back of his strong showing in Formula 4. He arrived there having started karting as an eight-year-old and performed strongly in the junior X30 class, winning the European and World championships.

He switched to car racing in 2020, tackling two Formula 4 championships with the US Racing team: The Italian series and Germany’s ADAC category. He scored a win and placed in the championship top 10 in each.

Oliver Bearman, Prema, Formula 3, Zandvoort, 2022
Bearman came close to winning the F3 title as a rookie
He returned to both series the following year, now with Van Amersfoort, and stamped his authority on both. A seven-race winning streak in the Italian series put the outcome of that championship beyond doubt at the halfway point in the season. By the end of the year Bearman had won 11 of the 21 races.

Bearman won four of the first five races in the German series but Tim Tramnitz put up a strong fight in the second half of the year. Nonetheless Bearman prevailed there too, taking six wins to his rival’s five by the end of the season.

His success in Italy brought him to Ferrari’s attention, and for 2022 Bearman was named a member of their Young Driver Academy.

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With that came a move into Formula 3 with Prema. After scoring points in both of the opening races in Bahrain, he led a rain-hit feature race at Imola but hit trouble in the final laps. Fighting a rear-guard action, Bearman lost places to two rivals then tangled with Gregoire Saucy and was given a 20-second penalty which dropped him out of the points.

Oliver Bearman, Haas, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2023
His first F1 practice outing came in late 2023
From then on he became a regular points-scorer, and was one of 11 drivers to score a win, his coming at Spa. With four races to go he closed to with a point of championship leader Isack Hadjar, but Bearman suffered a point-less penultimate weekend at Zandvoort, ended the year seven points off champion Victor Martins.

Ferrari wasted no time in promoting Bearman, still only 17, to Formula 2 in 2023. He gave a better account of himself in the more powerful cars. Although he only finished sixth in the championship, while Martins was top rookie in fifth, Bearman’s four victories was three more than champion Theo Pourchaire, and a larger haul than anyone besides team mate Frederik Vesti.

He cut his teeth in F1 machinery that October, driving a 2021-specification Ferrari at Fiorano. He also sampled current machinery courtesy of Ferrari’s customer team Haas who ran him at a pair of first practice sessions, and praised his performance.

For 2024 Bearman was elevated to the role of Ferrari reserve driver alongside Antonio Giovinazzi and Robert Shwartzman. He also continued in F1, though Prema struggled initially with the new chassis introduced by the series and Bearman was point-less after the opening round.

The second weekend began much more encouragingly and Bearman put his car on pole position for the feature race. Then came the call from Ferrari which meant he never got to line up there.

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