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These 6 Drivers Could Benefit the Most from F1 Grid Expansion

f1 grand prix of saudi arabia qualifying
6 Drivers Who Could Benefit from F1 Grid ExpansionKym Illman - Getty Images
  • Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc described it as “a matter of time” before Oliver Bearman is a full-time rival in Formula 1.

  • Predicting a full-time ride in F1 these days, however, is next to impossible, and that's mainly because their are just 20 cars on the grid and most of those seats are taken by drivers with long-term contracts.

  • Here's hoping that F1 adds an 11th or even 12th car to the grid in the near future to give a few deserving drivers a chance.


Oliver Bearman created waves in Formula 1 in Saudi Arabia with a composed drive to seventh place on his debut for Ferrari in place of the sidelined Carlos Sainz.

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Bearman has long been touted for Formula 1 but the mature approach taken by the 18-year-old—the third-youngest racer in history—merely accelerated the prospect of him landing a full-time seat in 2025.

Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc described it as “a matter of time” before Bearman is a full-time rival while World Champions Max Verstappen, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso also lavished praise on the young Briton.

Assuming Sainz is given the green light to return in Australia, Bearman will return to Formula 2 for the remainder of the year. Missing a round in F2 will make a title tilt harder but his starring show in Saudi Arabia was a pretty good job application for a future promotion.

f1 grand prix of saudi arabia qualifying
Oliver Bearman finished seventh in a pinch-hitting role at Saudi Arabia.Kym Illman - Getty Images

Bearman still has six planned FP1 runs with Haas Formula 1 Team, which he impressed during his three appearances in 2023, and he is expected to complete the mandatory two rookie FP1 outings for Ferrari.

But where does Ferrari protégé Bearman go in 2025?

Ferrari is a no-go, with Lewis Hamilton joining Leclerc, while there is no guarantee that partner team Haas would take the youngster, in spite of his impressive display.

Bearman’s debut highlights one problem with modern Formula 1—the lack of seats. IndyCar has 27 full-time competitors, MotoGP 22—with the option for wildcards—while pretty much every major championship has more than Formula 1’s 20 seats.

The desire for many for expansion comes amid the backdrop of Formula 1’s management showing little interest in expanding the grid, having rejected Andretti’s compelling application.

There are also very few of the current 20 drivers whose position can be questioned, given the strength in depth of the grid; even those in biggest danger have accolades in junior categories.

If there were more seats, or if vacancies were to arise, here’s who we’d like to see land a full-time opportunity in Formula 1:

f1 grand prix of saudi arabia final practice
Oliver Bearman proved he’s capable of racing at the F1 level, but will he get another chance anytime soon?Clive Rose - Getty Images

Oliver Bearman

Obviously. The 18-year-old Bearman was already one of the more highly-rated youngsters when he won titles in Formula 4, finished runner-up as a rookie in Formula 3, and claimed four wins in his maiden Formula 2 campaign in 2023. His speed and aptitude swiftly impressed Haas, and while his 2024 Formula 2 season began badly in Bahrain, his pole position in Saudi Arabia showed he and Prema were back on track. A phone call from Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur changed the complexion of his weekend—and possibly career.