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Formula 1

Who is Ollie Bearman? What to know about Ferrari's shock F1 debutant

3 min read

Oliver Bearman will become the third-youngest Formula 1 grand prix starter in history when he lines up on the grid for the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in relief of Ferrari regular Carlos Sainz Jr.

An F1 debut has long looked a matter of time for Bearman, widely viewed as easily one of the top talents of his generation on the junior single-seater ladder, but it was never expected to come as early as this or in circumstances like these.

Sainz's bout of appendicitis means Bearman will become the first driver to make their F1 championship race debut as part of Scuderia Ferrari since Arturo Merzario in 1972, and the first Briton to line up for the Scuderia since Eddie Irvine in 1999.

Bearman's open-wheel career stats

2020: 7th in German F4
2020: 10th in Italian F4 (part-time, 1 win)
2021: 1st in German F4
2021: 1st in Italian F4

2021: 14th in GB3 (part-time, 1 win)
2022: 15th in Formula Regional Asian (part-time)
2022: 3rd in FIA F3
2023: 6th in FIA F2

On his way to single-seaters, the 2005-born Bearman came up with much success through the British karting scene and through international IAME competitions (an arguably less conventional route than international series organised by WSK or the CIK-FIA world and regional championships).

His pivot to open wheels came in the COVID-disrupted 2020 at the age of 15, and while there was just a win each in German F4 and Italian F4 in that first year, Bearman returned to those two series in 2021 and won them both.

Oliver Bearman, ADAC F4

His Italian F4 title-winning campaign included a run of seven consecutive wins (which would've been nine if not for a technical infringement exclusion). In October of that year, he was made a Ferrari junior after a Ferrari Driver Academy evaluation event in Maranello.

From there on, Bearman headed straight to the F1-supporting Formula 3 series, swapping from Van Amersfoort Racing to Prema.

There, he was very nearly a champion at his first try. He wound up third in a top three split by just seven points after a chaotic finale curtailed by a red flag.

Oliver Bearman, FIA F3

An F2 promotion with Prema beckoned, and yielded an uneven but generally impressive first season in Formula 2, with some inconsistent scoring but also a double win in Baku - a rate feat in F2 and its predecessor GP2 given the inclusion of the reverse-grid format.

Towards the end of that campaign, which he would finish sixth, Bearman also drove in two free practice sessions for Ferrari customer Haas - as every F1 team is required to give two sessions to rookies in a season.

Oliver Bearman, Haas, F1

Bearman made a big impression in both of his outings, and was rewarded with a planned six-practice programme with Haas in 2024 - in what most regarded as a precursor to an inevitable F1 promotion in 2025.

And though his second F2 season with Prema began in rough fashion in Bahrain, where the team was generally uncompetitive with the series' all-new car, that path to F1 now looks clearer still now that Ferrari has entrusted him with replacing Sainz in the Saudi Arabian GP.

Moreover Bearman had already bounced back and taken F2 pole in Jeddah before he forfeited it for the Ferrari chance.

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