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Who is Oliver Bearman? The British F1 wonderkid who made record-breaking Ferrari debut

Who is Oliver Bearman? The British F1 wonderkid who made record-breaking Ferrari debut

Who is Oliver Bearman? The British F1 wonderkid who made record-breaking Ferrari debut

Who is Oliver Bearman? The British F1 wonderkid who made record-breaking Ferrari debut

British rising star Oliver Bearman stepped in for Ferrari at the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, becoming the youngest driver in the Italian team's history.

The 2024 Saudi Arabian GP saw a last-minute driver change for Scuderia Ferrari. With Carlos Sainz sidelined after undergoing surgery, the call went out to 18-year-old Oliver Bearman, a rising star within the Ferrari Driver Academy and the team's reserve driver.

The young Briton put in a solid performance on his first day in red. While his FP3 run resulted in a respectable 10th-place finish, qualifying proved slightly trickier. Bearman missed out on a shot at Q3 by a hair's breadth, clocking in just 0.036 seconds slower than Lewis Hamilton, who secured the final spot in the top ten. This near miss almost caused a major upset, with the young driver threatening to knock out the seven-time champion.

However, Bearman truly impressed on race day. His F1 debut was nothing short of incredible, as he secured a strong seventh-place finish, holding off Lando Norris, Lewis Hamilton, and Nico Hulkenberg who rounded out the top 10.

READ MORE: F1 Reserve Drivers 2024: Who is next man up for Ferrari, Mercedes and co?

Early life and beginnings in motorsport

Born in Essex, England, on May 8, 2005, Oliver Bearman's journey in motorsport began at the tender age of eight with karting. He quickly displayed his aptitude, finishing within the top five of the British Karting GP in his first year. Winning multiple titles throughout his karting career, Bearman's natural talent propelled him towards single-seater racing in 2020.

Meteoric rise through the junior ranks

Bearman wasted little time making his mark. Competing in both the ADAC F4 and Italian F4 championships, he secured victories and a string of podium finishes in each series. The following year saw him switch teams, joining Van Amersfoort Racing. This move proved fruitful, as Bearman dominated both championships, collecting an impressive 17 wins.

His exceptional performances caught the eye of Ferrari, and in late 2021, Bearman joined the prestigious Ferrari Driver Academy. Joining Formula 3 with PREMA Racing in 2022, Bearman secured his first victory later that season in Belgium and finished his rookie F3 campaign in third place. This strong showing earned him a promotion to Formula 2 in 2023.

F1 debut and history made

Continuing with PREMA in F2, Bearman showcased his talent with multiple victories, ultimately finishing the season in sixth place. He also got a taste of F1 machinery in late 2023, testing a 2021-spec Ferrari in Italy.

Further experience came with Haas during the Abu Dhabi post-season test. Securing reserve driver roles for both Ferrari and Haas in 2024, little did Bearman know that his meteoric rise would culminate in a surprise F1 debut for the Scuderia just weeks later.

Fresh off claiming pole position for the F2 feature race in Jeddah, Bearman's weekend took an unexpected turn after a surprise call-up by Ferrari to step in for Carlos Sainz, who underwent surgery due to appendicitis.

Thrusting into the spotlight, Bearman impressed in FP3, securing a P10 finish. While qualifying didn't quite see him break into the top ten, he put on an incredible performance on race day. Despite limited prep time, he clawed his way to a phenomenal seventh-place finish, even holding off Lewis Hamilton, the very driver who edged him out of Q3 by a mere 0.036 seconds. This stellar performance earned him a well-deserved Driver of the Day award, with 48.3% of the vote.

Bearman's surprise debut not only made him the first British driver to race for Ferrari since Eddie Irvine in 1999 but also the youngest British driver to race for the Scuderia, the youngest British driver in F1 history, and the third youngest driver to ever start a grand prix.

READ MORE: F1 Schedule 2024: Full calendar with all you need to know about every grand prix

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