BEARMAN Oliver (gbr), Scuderia Ferrari SF-24, portrait, starting grid during the Formula 1 STC Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2024, 2nd round of the 2024 Formula One World Championship from March 7 to 9, 2024 on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - Photo Xavi Bonilla / DPPI

Bearman dream debut breath of fresh air for F1, Old Guard beware!

BEARMAN Oliver (gbr), Scuderia Ferrari SF-24, portrait, starting grid during the Formula 1 STC Saudi Arabian Grand Prix 2024, 2nd round of the 2024 Formula One World Championship from March 7 to 9, 2024 on the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia - Photo Xavi Bonilla / DPPI

Haas F1 Team boss Ayao Komatsu hailed Oliver Bearman as “a total package” after the British teenager’s hugely impressive stand-in debut with Ferrari triggered speculation he would be in Formula 1 full-time next season.

Bearman also showed, as Liam Lawson did last season for AlphaTauri that a new generation of drivers are ready to step into F1, while a number of ‘old-timer’ journeymen are at the end of their stint in the top flight and past their peak. Meaning the 2025 F1 grid is likely to be very different to what we have this year.

For the short-term, the obvious destination for 18-year-old Bearman is Ferrari-powered Haas, who have a co-operation agreement with the Italian team and also share the Briton’s services as a reserve and have previously run Maranello-backed drivers.

Bearman jumped into the Ferrari for final practice and qualifying in Jeddah last Friday after Carlos Sainz had surgery for appendicitis, qualifying 11th and then finishing seventh on Saturday.

At the same time Haas, who slumped to last overall in 2023 and replaced Guenther Steiner with Japanese engineer Komatsu, scored their first point of the campaign with Nico Hulkenberg finishing 10th.

Komatsu said that was like a win for Haas but Bearman’s achievement was also noted: “Last year when we ran him in FP1 sessions in Mexico and Abu Dhabi straight away it was obvious that he´s a total package, he´s so impressive.

“So I was very happy that we got him for six Free Practice runs this year and very happy for him,” Komatsu added of the youngest ever British F1 driver.

Old Guard beware the Next-Gen of F1 drivers are coming

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Hulkenberg, 36, and teammate Kevin Magnussen, 31, are out of contract at the end of the season. Bearman said after the race he was looking forward to building up a relationship with Haas and getting more laps in: “I hope I did a good job interview today.”

The young Briton also has a Formula 2 campaign to think about, with no points on the board so far due to missing the Jeddah round — despite taking pole position for the feature race — while Barbadian Zane Maloney leads the standings with 47.

Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur said F2 had to be the main focus for the youngster for the rest of the season. Nevertheless, a second Formula 1 outing in Melbourne in two weeks cannot be completely ruled out, however, and depends on Sainz’s recovery.

After the race in Jeddah on Saturday: Vasseur told reporters: “We’ll take a decision probably only in Melbourne. At least we know that with Ollie we have also a good reserve.”

Vasseur: Sainz’s recovery so far is amazing

240041-scuderia-ferrari-saudi-arabia-gp-race_c27ac0e0-1f70-4c28-82b8-5b7bcc44fd29Until then, Sainz will rest and recover this week. He can be counted on to make every effort to be in the car in Australia, having dragged himself out of hospital a day after his operation to attend the race at the Corniche circuit.

The Spaniard has already shown, however, that hope is not always enough recalled Vasseur: “He struggled a lot on Thursday in both sessions with a fever and stomach issues and at the end he was convinced that it would be much better the day after.

“The day after he called me in the morning and said he would be here for the quali for sure. At 11:30 he was in the hospital and it was quite clear we were not going in the right direction”

As for Bearman subbing for Sainz at the forthcoming Australian Grand Prix, Vasseur said: “The recovery so far is amazing, the fact he was able to come today to be with the team is a very good sign, and a very good support for us.

“Now, he will fly back with me tomorrow [Sunday] and he will have one week of complete rest, and we will take a decision on when he has to fly to Melbourne in one week’s time. But I’m quite optimistic,” admitted the Ferrari team boss. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin)

Big Question: Who of the Old Guard will remain in F1 beyond 2024?