Bearman out to seize ‘great opportunity’ to seal 2025 F1 seat

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Bearman out to seize ‘great opportunity’ to seal 2025 F1 seat

British teenager Oliver Bearman says the six Formula 1 practice sessions he will drive in for Haas this season provide “great opportunities” to prove he is ready for a 2025 seat.

Bearman, who turned 19 earlier in May, made a hugely-impressive F1 debut when he finished seventh for Ferrari at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after replacing Carlos Sainz at short notice.

Haas, for whom Bearman made his F1 practice debut in Mexico last season, have yet to fill either of the seats for next year, with the announcement of Nico Hulkenberg’s departure for Sauber meaning the American-owned team will require at least one new driver.

Bearman is already considered perhaps the leading contender to fill the seat, and the Ferrari academy driver can further press his claims when he drives in first practice at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, live on Sky Sports at 12.30pm on Friday.

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Take a look at the best moments from Bearman’s debut race weekend for Ferrari where he stole the show finishing in a brilliant seventh place

“I see it as of course my chance,” Bearman told reporters in Imola on Thursday. “But just because there is a seat free, it doesn’t mean that I’m entitled to it.

“I still have to go out there and earn it through good performances in F2, but even more so the six FPs that I’m doing, I have to perform well and show that I’m ready to jump into F1 next year.”

Despite impressing in Saudi Arabia on a weekend where he had secured Formula 2 pole before being called up by Ferrari, Bearman has endured an underwhelming start to his second campaign in the junior category.

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Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris, and George Russell pay homage to Bearman who successfully stepped in to take Carlos Sainz’s seat by securing P7 at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

The Chelmsford-born driver says he will need to excel both in F1 practice and his F2 races to affirm his top-level credentials, and is not yet giving up his championship hopes in the latter.

He said: “Of course I’ve been set back in F2 but that doesn’t mean… everything is possible, first of all. Now we’re in the European season where we know the tracks, we have understood the car a bit better.

“So I don’t see any reason we can’t fight for the championship in F2, and I’m really motivated to do so. But these six FPs are of course six great opportunities to prove my talent and what I can do.

“I don’t place any more weight on them than I do on the F2 because of course you need to show that you can compete and race well. F1 is not just about doing the fastest lap. So 50-50.”

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Naomi Schiff thinks with so many drivers out of contract at the end of this season, Bearman’s drive on debut for Ferrari at the Saudi GP will mean he is on every team’s radar

‘I can help Haas with Ferrari experience’

Bearman had just one practice session to prepare for his full F1 debut in Jeddah after Sainz was diagnosed with appendicitis on the morning of Qualifying.

The Brit – understandably – failed to maximise the speed of a competitive Ferrari as he only qualified 11th but produced an extremely solid Sunday to advance in the race.

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Bearman makes an early impression in the Ferrari, having already made a number of overtakes in a lively Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

While he is aware the differences between the Jeddah street circuit and a classic F1 track like Imola will limit similarities, Bearman is already thinking about how his Ferrari experience can help Haas develop their 2024 car.

“The one thing is that Saudi is a bit of a different track, it’s a bit of an outlier because the grip level is so high,” he said. “So I think every car in Saudi feels a big step above coming back to a more conventional track.

“So that’s the only point, but now I’ve experienced driving a Ferrari, I think it’s quite useful for even Ferrari back at home, when I’m running with the old car and on the simulator, but hopefully also for Haas I can give some input and notice the differences between the cars.”

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Lewis Hamilton and George Russell congratulate debutant Bearman after an impressive seventh place in the Ferrari

With F2 having had just one race, in Australia, since his Saudi F1 appearance, Bearman has had plenty of time to reflect on his debut, but insists the experience has only increased his motivation to return to F1.

“It was kind of like going back home. I had a taste of the amazing life in F1,” he said.

“If anything, it motivated me more, I want to come back to F1 as quickly as possible. It was difficult to come back but if anything, I’m more motivated now and have got more hunger to come back.”

Sky Sports F1’s live Emilia Romagna GP schedule

Friday May 17
8:50am: F3 Practice
10am: F2 Practice
12pm: Emilia Romagna GP Practice One (session starts at 12.30pm)
2pm: F3 Qualifying
2:55pm: F2 Qualifying
3:45pm: Emilia Romagna GP Practice Two (session starts at 4pm)
5:30pm: The F1

F1 visits Europe for the first time in 2024 with the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola

Saturday May 18
9am: F3 Sprint
11:15am: Emilia Romagna GP Practice Three (session starts at 11.30am)
1.10pm: F2 Sprint
2.10pm: Emilia Romagna GP Qualifying build-up
3pm: Emilia Romagna GP Qualifying
5pm: Ted’s Qualifying Notebook
5.30pm: Indy 500 Qualifying

Sunday May 19
7.30am: F3 Feature Race
9am: F2 Feature Race
12:30pm: Grand Prix Sunday: Emilia Romagna GP build-up
2pm: The EMILIA ROMAGNA GRAND PRIX
4pm: Chequered Flag: Emilia Romagna GP reaction
5pm: Ted’s Notebook
8pm: Indy 500 Qualifying

Formula 1 heads to Europe as Imola returns to the calendar following last year’s cancelled race. Watch the Emilia Romagna GP this weekend, with Sunday’s race at 2pm. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership – No contract, cancel anytime

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