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Vasseur reflects on ‘fantastic’ Bearman performance in Saudi Arabia as Haas boss Komatsu calls him the ‘total package’

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 09: Oliver Bearman of Great Britain and Ferrari prepares to drive on

Fred Vasseur has praised Oliver Bearman for how he handled the pressure of his debut F1 race weekend at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, in which the youngster scored points after being drafted in to replace Carlos Sainz just hours before Friday’s Free Practice 3 session.

Bearman – who is currently competing in his second season of Formula 2 – stepped in following the news that Sainz had been diagnosed with appendicitis that required surgery. The 18-year-old went on to qualify in P11 before ending Saturday night’s Grand Prix in P7, claiming six points in his first ever Formula 1 race.

READ MORE: Bearman ‘destroyed’ after points-scoring Ferrari debut as he reflects on ‘good showing’ in Saudi Arabia

Despite the short notice that Bearman received prior to getting behind the wheel of the SF-24, Vasseur hailed the rookie for how calmly he handled the situation.

“He was very calm in his approach from the beginning,” Vasseur explained after the race. “This was a huge asset for the weekend because you know, you have the pressure, you are reminding him of all the points of the story, that he is the youngest [driver] for Ferrari blah blah blah, and for him, for sure it’s a huge pressure.

“But at the end of the day, I think he was able to skip it from his mind and focus on the real point and he was – I think a clear target for him, my understanding of this was that he wasn’t focused on details, but on the big topic and in the end it went well.”

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2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix: F2 pole to F1 points for Oliver Bearman

Given the challenging nature of the high-speed, 27-corner Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Vasseur praised Bearman for how he tackled the track with very few errors, adding: “The fact he had a short weekend without FP1 and FP2, without any mistakes, honestly I was completely impressed by this in Jeddah, between the walls, skipping FP1 and FP2, directly almost into quali.”

Speaking further on Sky Sports F1, Vasseur admitted that he was realistic about the possibility of Bearman making mistakes when faced with aspects of an F1 Grand Prix that he hadn’t experienced before, leaving the Frenchman even more impressed that there were no errors from the driver.

DRIVER OF THE DAY: Bearman wins by a landslide with P7 on debut for Ferrari in Jeddah

“As you can imagine, when I asked Ollie to jump into the car on Friday for the quali, I didn’t expect [such] a robust weekend. He did very well yesterday, taking it step by step in free practice, doing a very strong quali – because he missed Q3 for a couple of thousandths,” Vasseur commented.

“Today I was a bit scared with the procedure of the start, the pit stop and so that he didn’t do before, but he was very solid and he didn’t do a single mistake in the race, and he was even able to speed up at the end when we told him that [Lando] Norris and [Lewis] Hamilton were behind him. Overall it’s a fantastic job.”

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 09: Oliver Bearman of Great Britain driving the (38) Ferrari SF-24 on

Bearman came home with four points in his debut Grand Prix

Bearman’s ability to manage his tyres and handle various pressures in the race – as well as setting his fastest lap on the final tour of the Grand Prix – also earned acclaim from Vasseur.

“It was amazing. On the management, I would say that pace is one thing but management, I don’t want to just speak about the race, but from the beginning of the event he was very solid, very robust, he didn’t do a mistake,” said Vasseur.

READ MORE: Leclerc says ‘it’s a matter of time’ before Bearman joins F1 grid after Saudi stand-in performance

“[He gave] good feedback, very calm on the radio, and also [was] helping everybody to stay calm and thanks to him.”

However, Vasseur acknowledged that this is just one step of what will be a continuing journey ahead for Bearman, with the teenager set to make further FP1 appearances in 2024 after previously participating in two of these sessions for Haas last year. He will also be looking to mount a championship fight in F2.

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Ferrari super-sub Bearman ‘destroyed’ after points-scoring F1 debut in Jeddah

On whether the performance could see Bearman find a place on the grid with one of Ferrari’s partner teams in 2025, Vasseur said: “Yeah perhaps, but the most important [thing is], you know perfectly that the result of today will be behind us in a couple of weeks, and that he will have to be focused on the F2 because he has a huge challenge in front of him.

“This weekend cost him also a lot because he was supposed to start from pole in F2, it means to come back into the championship will be a challenge, but he will have the occasion to do some FP1 this year.”

FACTS AND STATS: Bearman makes it four Brits in the points for the first time since 1968

Over at Haas, Team Principal Ayao Komatsu was equally impressed by Bearman and expressed his delight that the youngster will be joining the team again for some FP1 outings this season.

Quizzed about the possibility of Bearman’s showing in Jeddah putting him on the radar for Haas’s future plans, Komatsu responded: “Yeah, absolutely. Last year when we had him in FP1 sessions in Mexico and Abu Dhabi, straight away it was obvious that he’s a total package. He’s so impressive, so I was very happy that we got him for six FP1s this year. [I’m] very happy for him.”

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