Bearman admits ‘stars have aligned’, hopes Ferrari debut is an omen

Oliver Bearman says “the stars have aligned” for him to make his Formula 1 debut at 18 years old, and hopes it’s a sign of things to come that he is making it for Ferrari at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Carlos Sainz’s diagnosis that he is suffering from appendicitis and requires surgery ruled the Spaniard out of the rest of the race weekend on Friday morning, leaving reserve driver Bearman to be called up as his replacement after having secured pole position for the Formula 2 feature race. Currently in his second season in F2 and still one of the youngest drivers on the grid – having completed just one year in Formula 3 – Bearman said it has been a rapid rise.

“The stars have aligned,” Bearman said. “It’s been such a quick progression in my career. Two years ago or three years ago, I was in F4 still. I only did my first F1 test, like, three or four months ago. So it’s been a really quick progression. And to make my F1 debut in red, hopefully it’s a sign of things to come.”


Bearman impressed with an error-free outing in FP3 before coming within 0.04s of a Q3 appearance, but he was disappointed to qualify only 11th in a car Charles Leclerc put on the front row.

“I think the main loss was that I did the lap on lap two,” he said. “My first lap was a bit scruffy in Sector 3 and I lost a lot of time there, and then the tires aren’t in the best window for lap two. So that’s my mistake. I felt like my lap two was pretty decent. You know, the gaps are so close, I see little pinches of time here and there but that’s how it is, it’s fine margins.”

One of the most impressive aspects of Bearman’s performance was how quickly he was close to the overall pace. Bearman says his calmness was partly down to not having had enough time to get nervous or dwell on the magnitude of the situation facing him.

“Honestly, no [warning],” he said. “I woke up this morning fully prepared and fully ready for my F2 race, starting from P10. I got the call pretty late on in the day, just a couple of hours before FP3, that I would be doing it.

“Of course, it’s not the circumstances I would like to make my F1 debut and I wish the best to Carlos and hope he recovers well. But, nonetheless, it’s a fantastic opportunity and hopefully tomorrow I can make use of it.

“I honestly didn’t have time to get nervous or to overthink it because it was so late that I literally had to focus straight away on trying to get up to speed and catch up for lost time. Having missed out on Thursday, it made my life a little bit more difficult, I’d say. So yeah, I was pretty much flat out with the engineers trying to figure out everything and get up to speed as quickly as possible.

“I was just focused on what to look out for and what to do. I didn’t have time to think about the gravity of the situation. Maybe that’s a good thing.”

Bearman said his aim is to move forwards in Saturday’s race to score points on debut, rather than simply be proud to be the third-youngest driver to start a grand prix.

“I’ll sleep well [tonight] I think, first of all!” he said. “I’ll have to, because it’s a long race tomorrow, my longest race by far, so let’s see how that goes. But of course a lot of stuff to go through and analysis, especially the longer runs in FP3 that I did, and stuff like starts, pit stops, procedures that I haven’t had time to work on. So it will be a busy night, hopefully I’ll try and get a good eight hours.

“I think on Monday I’ll feel it, and I’ll be quite proud. At the moment, I’m just trying to maximize things and bring the team some points because that’s my big goal. But I’m sure when I take a step back and pinch myself, I’ll be quite proud.”

Story originally appeared on Racer