Formula 1

Ferrari protege's bid for an F1 2025 seat gets another boost

by Josh Suttill
3 min read

A complete absence of Formula 1 rookies from the grid for 2024 is almost guaranteed not to be repeated in 2025, and there's a Ferrari protege with a clear route to ensuring that.

Stake

Ollie Bearman impressed Haas and plenty of others within the F1 paddock with his two FP1 appearances last year in Mexico and Abu Dhabi.

They were preceded by a maiden F1 run in Ferrari colours at the team's Fiorano test track, where Bearman clocked up more than 400km in Ferrari's SF21 shortly before his Mexico bow.

He completed a further day for Haas in the post-season Abu Dhabi test and most recently drove Ferrari's 2022 car in a Pirelli tyre test at Barcelona.

Now the 18-year-old has added new F1 reserve roles with both Ferrari - where he'll share duties with Antonio Giovinazzi and Robert Shwartzman - and Haas, joining Pietro Fittipaldi.

But Haas hasn't just made him one of its 2024 reserve drivers and designated FP1 rookie to fulfil F1's rule mandating two FP1 appearances. Instead, it has promised Bearman six practice outings, which will aid his preparation for a potential 2025 seat.

It echoes the kind of run-up the likes of F1 proteges Charles Leclerc (four FP1s with Sauber in 2017) and Lando Norris (seven FP1s with McLaren in 2018) had before they made their F1 bows the following year.

Haas is looking increasingly like a possible option for Bearman's F1 debut too, given new leader Ayao Komatsu was a big vocal admirer of the job Bearman did on his FP1 appearances last year.

Both Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen are out of contract at the end of the year and neither might return for 2025.

Magnussen's found himself in a Daniel-Ricciardo-at-McLaren-esque tailspin that he must escape from or his lengthy association with the American team might come to an end for good.

Hulkenberg was the far more publicly agitated Haas driver towards the end of 2023 and while he remains a strong asset, he lacks the financial pull that would keep him around if the team needed to find the money Gene Haas won't put into it.

Ferrari could theoretically sweeten the deal for Haas, in the same way it helped place Leclerc at Sauber in 2018.

This is all conditional on Bearman performing well in his main 2024 programme, Formula 2, where at Prema he's up against arguably the other most likely 2025 F1 graduate: Mercedes protege Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

There's a brand-new car to contend with, which always brings with it a host of variables, and long-time followers of 'single-spec' junior series will know there's no such thing as a completely even playing field.

Rookie Antonelli will be a threat and a repeat of George Russell walking into a new era of F2 in 2018 as a rookie, beating the experienced drivers and winning the title, can't be ruled out.

But if Bearman can prevail - or at least piece together the kind of non-title-winning campaigns that Norris and Alex Albon did versus Russell - then there's a clear route to achieving his F1 dream with Haas in 2025.

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