Formula 1

Ferrari Opted for Bearman Debut in Jeddah due to Giovinazzi’s WEC Schedule – Vasseur

4 Mins read
Credit: Sam Bloxham / LAT Images

Frédéric Vasseur, the Team Principal at Scuderia Ferrari, has revealed they opted to put Oliver Bearman in their SF24 during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend rather than Antonio Giovinazzi due to the Italian’s busy schedule outside of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

With Carlos Sainz Jr. unable to race due to illness that ultimately was diagnosed as appendicitis, Ferrari required a last-minute replacement to take over the driving duties ahead of final practice, and FIA Formula 2 racer Bearman was chosen to make his Grand Prix debut at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.

Ferrari could have opted to bring in an experienced driver such as Giovinazzi, who is part of their reserve driver roster, but with the Italian competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship, it was decided that neither he, nor Robert Shwartzman, would be considered just a week after competing in their primary series.

“I took the decision in the winter because I found it a bit stupid last year to ask Antonio to do 22 or 24 races when he was doing in parallel the LMH programme,” Vasseur is quoted as saying by PlanetF1.com.

“The LMH is quite important for us – it’s a huge challenge – and I don’t want to ask Antonio or Shwartzman to travel with us and to do F1 the week after Qatar [the WEC season-opener], and a race in between.

“It’s why we decided when Ollie’s with us, he will be the reserve, and when he’s not with us, he’ll be in the sim.”

Pre-Race Good Luck Message from Vettel Bearman’s ‘Favourite’

Bearman rewarded Ferrari’s confidence in him by finishing an excellent seventh, ahead of fellow Britons Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton, and the eighteen-year-old revealed that he received a good luck message prior to the race from four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel.

“I did get a lot of congratulations and also good luck messages before the race,” Bearman is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.  “My favourite one was from Sebastian Vettel.

“I’m a huge fan of his since the early days. I was, up until he retired, always routing for Seb. So, to get a message from him was really special.  To know that he was kind of watching put a bit of pressure on, but it was a nice pressure.”

Bearman was also congratulated for his efforts by Formula 1’s CEO Stefano Domenicali, while the hug he received from Hamilton as he extracted himself from the car made him feel proud of what he achieved.

He also had positive comments from other drivers, including Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen, following his performance in Jeddah, and he was able to leave with his head held high and inside the top ten in the Drivers’ Championship.

“He [Domenicali] sent me a really nice message after the race, which was really happy,” Bearman added.  “And I got a hug from Lewis [Hamilton] as well after the race.

“That was nice that he kind of recognised the race for me. That was a proud moment for myself.”

Oliver Bearman was impressive on his Grand Prix debut – Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Bearman’s Focus Needs to be on Formula 2 – Vasseur

Vasseur has downplayed Bearman’s chances of future opportunities with Ferrari, with the Briton’s focus needing to be on Formula 2, where he is one of the favourites for the title but has zero points after the first two rounds.

His team, Prema Racing, had a nightmare weekend in Bahrain, and with his move to Formula 1 in Saudi Arabia, his points for taking pole position on Thursday were taken away from him.

A lot of chatter surrounds Bearman and his future with Ferrari, and the potential to follow in the footsteps of Hamilton of racing for the Maranello-based team in the future, but Vasseur says no comparisons should be made to the seven-time World Champion, especially when he has yet to switch to Ferrari from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team.

“Don’t start to speak about after Lewis Hamilton, Lewis is still not in the team!” Vasseur was quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. 

“But it’s a good signal for Ollie for sure, it’s an important milestone. In Melbourne and Imola he will be back on the F2 project, and the most important challenge for Ollie will be this one.

“He will start soon the FP1 sessions with Haas, and this will be important also for us to give him experience and mileage in the car. But for sure with this one [Jeddah] he has the result in the pocket already.”

2025 Haas Seat Not Guaranteed – Ayoa Komatsu

Bearman had already been linked with a drive with the MoneyGram Haas F1 Team for the 2025 season, with six planned free practice outings for the American outfit to happen later this year, but Haas Team Principal Ayao Komatsu says it is not a formality he will be there.

Haas currently have the experienced duo of Nico Hülkenberg and Kevin Magnussen as their drivers for the 2024 season, and with both showing signs of good form, replacing either with Bearman is not a guarantee.

“He deserves a chance next year, I guess,” Komatsu is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.  “Penalty aside, Kev’s done fantastic today.

“Nico delivered as well. So how can I sit here and say, [Bearman is] ‘our driver for next year’?  Based on today’s performance, [it’s] Nico and Kevin.”

Komatsu says Bearman’s impressive performance in Saudi Arabia was not that surprising, particularly after his outings with Haas in the Mexico City and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix free practice outings with Haas in 2023, and he believes the youngest has a bright future ahead of him in Formula 1.

“Of course, we ran him in Mexico FP1 and Abu Dhabi and straight away it was totally clear to me and most of us that he is something special,” Komatsu added.

“It’s not just the speed. It’s the total package and he understands the objectives, he handled himself very well. Even during a run, he’s able to sort of absorb the information from the previous lap and then make minor adjustments to make the next step better.

“He just showed maturity straight away as if he’s been doing it for some years.”

Oliver Bearman has been linked with a race seat at Haas for 2025, but its not guaranteed – Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office
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