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F1 veteran reveals driver that had a better debut than Bearman

F1 veteran reveals driver that had a better debut than Bearman

F1 veteran reveals driver that had a better debut than Bearman

F1 veteran reveals driver that had a better debut than Bearman

The head of Ferrari’s junior driver programme Jock Clear had high praise for Oliver Bearman after his appearance in Saudi Arabia – but he believes that another driver had a better debut.

Bearman was drafted in on the Friday morning in Jeddah to replace Carlos Sainz after the Spaniard was diagnosed with appendicitis, giving him just one practice session to get used to F1 machinery.

READ MORE: Ferrari chief REVEALS Bearman F1 Australian Grand Prix role

The 18-year-old F2 talent narrowly missed out on the top ten in qualifying and put on an impressive display in the race to finish seventh, beating his fellow compatriots Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton after the two put him under pressure in the final laps.

But speaking on the F1 Nation podcast, Clear – who is also the driver coach for Charles Leclerc – claims that Jacques Villeneuve’s debut in Australia in 1996 just pips Bearman’s in his view, where the Canadian qualified on pole, but was forced to move aside for team-mate and future champion Damon Hill to win the race.

Oliver Bearman finished an impressive P7 in Jeddah
But jock Clear believes Jacques Villeneuve had a better debut

Clear claims Villeneuve debut pips Bearman

“I suppose you would all say that I’m a bit biased,” he said – referring to the fact that the Brit was Villeneuve’s race engineer between 1996 and 2003.

“And Jacques had won an IndyCar championship when he got in an F1 car, but obviously he put it on pole in Melbourne and he would have won that race if Adrian [Newey] hadn’t told us to move over and let Damon [Hill] win, in 1996.

“But Jacques was 26 years old at that time, this guy is 18. So, at this level, at this stage, having come out of an F2 car at 18 years old, I’ve never seen anything better than that.”

Despite believing Villeneuve had the better debut in F1, Clear lavished in Bearman’s achievements over the weekend in Jeddah.

READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Horner and Marko ‘can give you rewards’ claims F1 prodigy

The Canadian finished second on his debut in 1996

“I couldn’t have hoped for a better weekend for Ollie,” he said.

“If you’d written the script, you would have balked a bit at the final result. You’d have said, ‘Yeah, let’s be realistic’.

“Because, if you brought him to a Grand Prix and said, two weeks ago, ‘You’re going to do the Grand Prix in Saudi’, mentally he gets prepared for it. We can do some things. We can practice some starts…

“But, when you drop him in on Friday morning, [with] one free practice session, and then you’re into qualifying against the big boys… that’s ominous.

“That’s very, very intimidating for anybody. From our point of view, we’re just very proud of how well he’s integrated with the team, and how well the team has supported him.”

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