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

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JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 08: Oliver Bearman of Great Britain and Ferrari walks in the Paddock.

There was a new name on the timesheets as the third practice session of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix got underway. It was confirmed in the build-up to the hour that Oliver Bearman would be stepping in at Ferrari to substitute for Carlos Sainz, with the Spaniard being diagnosed with appendicitis.

While Bearman had previously appeared in Free Practice 1 sessions for Haas in 2023, the event in Jeddah will mark his first F1 Grand Prix. This is pressure in itself, but for an 18-year-old rookie to make their debut with Ferrari is perhaps all the more daunting.

READ MORE: Sainz ruled out of Saudi Arabian GP with appendicitis as F2 racer Bearman steps up to replace him

Bearman, though, has impressed many en route to this moment. Here we take a look at the story of his career so far.

Beginnings

Born on May 8, 2005 in Chelmsford, Essex – incidentally the same day that Fernando Alonso, who he will share the grid with in Jeddah, finished second in the Spanish Grand Prix – Bearman’s path in motorsport started with karting when he was eight years old.

The youngster finished in the top five of the British Karting GP within his first year and from there moved up the ranks, claiming multiple titles along the way before his progression continued with the step up to single-seater racing in 2020.

READ MORE: F2 front-runner Bearman has ‘no doubt’ he’d be ready for F1 chance in 2025

Bearman competed in the ADAC F4 and the Italian F4 championships that year, and he scored a win in each category as well as some podiums. After switching from the US Racing squad to Van Amersfoort Racing for the 2021 campaigns, Bearman impressively won both titles, clinching a total of 17 victories along the way.

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 29: Oliver Bearman of Great Britain and Prema Racing (6) drives on track

Bearman progressed to Formula 3 in 2022 after impressing through the motorsport ranks

Ferrari Driver Academy calls

It was at the end of 2021 that Bearman became a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, before making his Formula 3 debut in 2022 with PREMA Racing. While the rookie initially crossed the line in P1 during his first race in Bahrain, a five-second track limits penalty dropped him back to second, handing the win to Isack Hadjar.

Despite this, Bearman scored some promising results as the campaign progressed before taking his first win in Belgium. While his chances of winning the championship looked slim heading into the season finale at Monza, Bearman didn’t give up and fought a close battle with Zane Maloney and Victor Martins in the Feature Race.

READ MORE: Oliver Bearman on a whirlwind 2023 and his glimpse into F1 life with Ferrari and Haas

Martins ultimately took the crown, while Bearman ended his debut F3 season in third place. This was enough to earn him a call-up to Formula 2 for 2023.

230116-f1-bearman-sf21-2023-fiorano_bf3551f7-6b99-482f-9bc3-5e02175bba1a.jpg

Bearman has been a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy since 2021

F2 and debut Formula 1 appearance

Remaining with PREMA, Bearman enjoyed a strong first campaign in F2. The teenager took both the Sprint and Feature Race victories in Baku, and sealed further wins in Barcelona and Monza. He finished the year with sixth place in the drivers’ standings.

This was not Bearman’s only achievement in 2023, though. In October the Briton was given his first experience of getting behind the wheel of an F1 car when he tested a 2021-spec Ferrari at Fiorano in Italy.

READ MORE: Ferrari junior Bearman gets first taste of F1 machinery ahead of FP1 outings with Haas

It proved to be an emotional moment for some, with Bearman saying after completing 400 kilometres on track: “My mum and dad came. My mum said she cried when I left the pits, which was quite funny. It’s nice to have them here, they’ve been with me through my whole journey so far, and this is a big milestone – the first F1 test – so it’s really nice.”

The mileage allowed Bearman to participate in two FP1 sessions for Haas in the latter stages of the 2023 F1 season, with the young driver given his debut F1 weekend running in Mexico before following this up with an outing in Abu Dhabi.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - OCTOBER 27: Oliver Bearman of Great Britain driving the (50) Haas F1 VF-23

Bearman made his FP1 debut with Haas at the 2023 Mexican Grand Prix

Words of praise

Bearman’s FP1 performances earned him acclaim from some onlookers, including Haas’ Ayao Komatsu, who was then acting as the team’s Trackside Engineering Director prior to his recent step up to Team Principal.

Following his first appearance for the squad in Mexico, Komatsu said of Bearman: “I don’t think you can fault him. He’s done really well. All the way from the initial preparation, he’s been very professional, very, very easy to deal with in every single process, I have nothing to complain [about].

READ MORE: 'I can't fault him' – Haas highly impressed with Ferrari junior Bearman's FP1 performance in Mexico

“And then today, with the calmness, procedures he understood, he understood the objectives of every single run. He didn’t put a foot wrong, really.”

Bearman also returned to action for Haas in the 2023 post-season test in Abu Dhabi. Just a few weeks later, the teenager was confirmed as a reserve driver for both Ferrari and Haas in 2024, a year in which he would also take part in his second F2 season.

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

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will mark Bearman's first Formula 1 race

Surprise call-up

After coming away from the opening round of the 2024 Formula 2 campaign with no points, Bearman would undoubtedly have been feeling keen to make up for this at the second event on the calendar in Jeddah. He got things off to a good start by claiming pole position for the Feature Race on Thursday.

However, the weekend took an unexpected turn, with Bearman then being called up to F1 to step in for an unwell Carlos Sainz at Ferrari ahead of FP3 on Friday morning. Despite having little time to prepare, the rookie driver appeared to handle his initial session well, ending in 10th place on the timing as he adjusted to the SF-24.

FP3: Verstappen fastest during final practice as Bearman makes his Ferrari debut in Saudi Arabia

It is not unheard of for a substitute to deliver an eye-catching performance when it comes to race day – Nyck de Vries, for example, scored points when sitting in for an unwell Alex Albon at Williams in the 2022 Italian Grand Prix.

Can Bearman deliver a similar result on Saturday night in Jeddah? It will certainly be interesting to find out.

2024 Saudi Arabian GP FP3: Ride onboard with Ferrari sub Oliver Bearman as he gets up to speed in final practice

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