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Vasseur explains when Bearman found out he'd be stepping in for Ferrari as Sainz has successful surgery

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: Oliver Bearman of Great Britain and Ferrari prepares to drive in

Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur has shared further details on the “late call” made to Oliver Bearman to replace the unwell Carlos Sainz on Friday at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with the teenager informed just hours before jumping into the car for the first time.

Sainz had skipped media duties on Wednesday but returned to action for Thursday’s practice sessions. The Spaniard later described how the day had been his “toughest” in an F1 car to date.

READ MORE: Ferrari super-sub Bearman says missing Q3 in quali debut 'hurts' as Leclerc looks to ‘surprise’ Red Bulls in Saudi

It was then confirmed on Friday ahead of third practice that Sainz had been diagnosed with appendicitis that required surgery, meaning that he would sit out the rest of the weekend while Bearman would stand in.

Bearman – who is currently in his second campaign in F2 and is also a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy – was given little time to ready himself. When asked by Sky Sports when the teenager found out that he would be racing for Ferrari this weekend, Vasseur responded: “At 1.30pm or 2pm! It’s better like this, you don’t have time to think about it! It was a late call.”

With FP3 taking place at 1630 local time, Bearman is unlikely to have had much of an opportunity to prepare.

‘It hurts’ – Ferrari super-sub Bearman on just missing out on Q3 on F1 debut

But when quizzed on how the team had helped the youngster with his preparations, Vasseur recalled how Bearman had impressed many when he took part in two FP1 sessions for Haas at the end of the 2023 season, as well as having gained experience with an older-spec Ferrari during a test at Fiorano in Italy.

“He drove the old car a couple of months ago and he did very well,” commented Vasseur. “Last year he did two FP1 with us in Mexico and I don’t remember the other one. He did a good job on these too.

READ MORE: Who is Oliver Bearman? The new Ferrari rookie’s career so far

“But for sure it’s a different story when you have to jump into the car in Jeddah, FP3 – it’s not an easy one. In the other end he did F2 yesterday, he did very well because he ended up with pole position. I also think that was somehow a good preparation.”

Bearman was given his Ferrari reserve driver duties ahead of the 2024 season, and Vasseur has praised how the 18-year-old has progressed so far in his racing career.

“Honestly he was at Ferrari before I joined. He was into the academy but if you have a look on the past in junior series he did very, very well,” the Frenchman said. “He was always in the top two, top three, won in F4, won in F3 and he’s doing a very good job.

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 06: Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari walks in the Paddock during

Sainz has now successfully had surgery after being diagnosed with appendicitis

“Now there is always a difference between doing a good job in a junior series and to do the job in F1. We don’t have to draw any conclusions now. We have to let him time to do the job and I won’t put any pressure on him this weekend.”

In terms of expectations of what Bearman – who will start Saturday's race from P11 – can achieve for the rest of the weekend in Jeddah, Vasseur added: “The most important now is to get experience but it’s an opportunity for sure. But I don’t want to put any target or say, ‘Okay you have to do this’.

READ MORE: Verstappen takes pole position for Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as he heads Leclerc and Perez

“It would be a mistake. If he’s able to do a clean one then I will be more than happy.”

As for Sainz, Vasseur said of how the Spaniard learned he had appendicitis: “He didn’t feel very well. At the beginning we were thinking about a food issue and this morning it was even worse. He went to the hospital and it was quite obvious.”

Ferrari confirmed prior to qualifying that Sainz had successfully had surgery and was resting in hospital.

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