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How Oliver Bearman made history during his unexpected Formula 1 debut

Oliver "Ollie" Bearman in the Ferrari garage on his Formula 1 debut, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, 2024

At 18 years of age Oliver “Ollie” Bearman became the youngest Scuderia Ferrari driver. Showing Ferrari has nothing to worry about in the future.

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend was a rollercoaster for Ferrari. Carlos Sainz was admitted to the hospital with appendicitis. This gave Oliver “Ollie” Bearman the chance to showcase his ability on very short notice. From pole position in Formula 2 on Thursday to a Ferrari Formula 1 car on Friday, Oliver “Ollie” Bearman made his debut in the pinnacle of motorsport at the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.

The Youngest Ever Ferrari Driver

Bearman stepped up and became the youngest driver ever in Scuderia Ferrari history at the age of 18 years and 305 days old. He comes from Scuderia Ferrari Driver Academy, and races from the Italian team Prema in Formula 2. Before the 2024 season, Ferrari and Haas confirmed him as one of their reserve drivers.

In Jeddah, Ollie Bearman took his first pole position of the season in the Formula 2 Championship. But of course, when the chance to drive in Formula 1 presented itself, he couldn’t refuse. The British driver had only one practice session to get comfortable in his Ferrari before qualifying. While taking part in the Free Practice 3 the driver of car number 38 finished the session in p10. A very good start for his first time in Ferrari red!

For the race, Bearman and Leclerc were the youngest pair ever to race for Scuderia Ferrari and the first one made up by the Ferrari Driver Academy.

The first Quali

The pair made by Bearman and his temporary teammate Charles Leclerc went on the track for Q1 on soft tyres. Car 38 showed a good pace since his first push lap. Ollie Bearman went p4 in his first timed lap, painting the third sector in purple.

He made it to Q2 in p9, with a gap of +0.813 tenths from the reference lap time marked by Max Verstappen.

He was a bit unlucky in Q2. In fact, before Bearman could start his timed lap, Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas had an issue and caused a red flag. Once the track was clear, he had a new pair of soft tyres, but made a mistake in his first run. For this reason, his qualifying lap depended on his second attempt, but the tyre performance was already dropping. However, he pushed to the maximum and closed his first Q2 session in F1 in p11. The Englishman was just 36 milliseconds away from Lewis Hamilton and Q3. It was an incredible effort considering how difficult the track of Jeddah is.

Given his position on the grid, the points zone is close by, and it was a realistic target for the race on Saturday.

A promising future

Ollie Bearman couldn’t ask for a better debut! He had quite an exiting time in Jeddah until his last laps. The Britishman started on soft tyres in p11 and kept his position at the lights out. Then, he started to chase Yuki Tsunoda for the 1oth position, giving him a hard time.

When Lance Stroll hit the wall, causing a Safety Car, the rookie pitted for hard compounds and his race started to get better and better. Once the SC ended, he entered the points zone with an overtake on Tsunoda and then Zhou Guanyu. He put pressure on Nico Hulkenberg and duelled with him. With a good move, Bearman passed him and climbed into 7th position.

From that point, he had a clear track before him and his pace was quite good. For this, Bearman was able to keep the position on two experienced drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris when they finally pitted.

At the end, his lap time was similar to his teammate Charles Leclerc. He saw the checkered flag in p7 and gave the Scuderia useful points. He was also Driver of the day, to add the cherry on top of an amazing race.

The track of the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix is one of the most challenging on the calendar and Bearman showed a great maturity and an incredible talent. Ferrari, and not only them, will definitely keep an eye on this rising star. If even Lewis Hamilton went to congratulate him with a hug right after the race, Ollie Bearman is surely a name to remember for the future.

The team words on his debut

Oliver Bearman preparing himself in the Ferrari Garage, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, 2024
Oliver Bearman preparing himself in the Ferrari Garage, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, 2024

At the press, he said:I’m happy. It was the first time I have done so many laps, raced behind other cars and managed the batteries to overtake opponents. But I think I’ve done well”.

Charles Leclerc, on podium at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, commented his momentary teammate’s performance: “I think today he’s been incredible. 7th in your first race in F1 having done only FP3, in a new car, hugely impressive! I’m sure he’s extremely proud, but everyone has noticed how talented he is. It’s just a matter of time before he comes here in F1”.

Even Fred Vasseur, Ferrari Team Principal, was impressed by his performance. He said: “I didn’t expect that from an 18-year-old with no experience. But, already during the qualifying, I understood that he was having the right approach to the various things to do. During the GP everything went smoothly, he pushed well and put behind very strong drivers. I am very happy for him and the Ferrari Driver Academy”.

Congratulations came also came from Carlos Sainz who celebrated the result of the young driver on his official accounts.




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