What next for Oliver Bearman after Ferrari prodigy’s stellar F1 debut

Discover the future of Oliver Bearman, Ferrari's F1 rising star, after an impressive debut. What's next for this talented driver?

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Ferrari know they have a driver with massive potential within the team after Oliver Bearman’s superb debut performance at the Formula 1 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The only question now is how the Italian car giant will try to lay out a career path for him to return to F1.

He only stepped into the car after it emerged Carlos Sainz needed appendix surgery, and the 18-year-old was given his chance and snatched it with both hands. After a respectable performance in FP3 with only an hour’s notice, Bearman put his SF-24 11th on the grid and made a huge impression in Jeddah as they pulled off daring overtakes.

His seventh-place finish at the Jeddah Corniche Street Circuit earned him Driver of the Day from F1 fans, having made up four positions to score his first world championship points. But this was no fluke – Bearman’s emergence from reserve driver to star for the future is no secret.

He won both the German and the Italian Formula Four championships as a youngster, convincing Ferrari to sign him up for their prestigious driver academy, a move that provided him with invaluable resources to further his development.

Oliver Bearman leaves the Ferrari garage for his first F1 qualifying session, at the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP | @ScuderiaFerrari / X.com
Oliver Bearman leaves the Ferrari garage for his first F1 qualifying session, at the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP | @ScuderiaFerrari / X.com

Despite his young age, the Prancing Horse were taken aback by his consistent lap times in the simulator. In 2022, he was named as a reserve for Sainz or Charles Leclerc with a view to a potential seat in medium-long term, but nobody really expected him to step into the Ferrari this soon.

Not only did he finish seventh after a magnificent drive, Bearman also finished ahead of his fellow Britons, Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton, to highlight his obvious talent. Soon after, Bearman was the man of the hour as he attracted praise from all quarters of the paddock, including Hamilton and his team-mate Leclerc, who predicted it was only a matter of “when” he gets a seat.

A possible route into F1

But Bearman knows his time for a permanent seat has not yet arrived, as the teenager vowed to give Sainz his car back for the Australian Grand Prix if he was fit to return.

“Honestly, I’m not sure. I hope not. That’s not to say I don’t want to be in the car, but I wish Carlos the very best and I hope he feels better,” Bearman told Channel 4 when asked if he would drive again. “It’s his car, and I feel like I shouldn’t be in his car, I should give it back to him so he can have another turn.”

The odds of seeing Bearman drive for Ferrari in 2025 in a race are practically zero after the team signed Hamilton replace Sainz from next year. But his drive in Saudi Arabia did not go without a mention from his boss, Fred Vasseur, who is already looking forward to seeing him back in the car in the young driver FP1 sessions this season.

“That was very solid,” Vasseur said. “He didn’t make a single mistake in the race and overall did a fantastic job. Let’s take it calmly: he will have the opportunity to do tests, to run in free practice. His first goal now is to focus on the challenge in Formula 2, it’s huge.”

While his attention will now turn to F2 with Prema Racing, Bearman’s impressive debut has raised the possibility of taking a seat with Haas F1, who are supplied with Ferrari engines.

With six FP1 drives already booked in with the American team, the link between the two teams is already established – and Bearman would jump at the chance to join them in the future, and possibly 2025 if Nico Hulkenberg or Kevin Magnussen leave.

“Hopefully this will open a door for me,” Bearman said. “That would be fantastic because I don’t know what else I can do.”

Joe Krishnan
Joe Krishnan is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who has worked for a number of media organisations, including the Daily Express, The Mirror, Evening Standard, The Independent and Bleacher Report. Joe has been following F1 since when he watched Mika Hakkinen clinch the 1999 drivers' championship, and his first taste of real-life racing action was watching David Coulthard spin off into the gravel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in 2001.
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