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Bearman impresses Leclerc and Red Bull rivals

Ollie Bearman’s performance as a last-minute Saudi Arabian Grand Prix call-up for Carlos Sainz at Ferrari impressed his teammate Charles Leclerc and also drew praise from the Red Bull drivers.

Sainz was diagnosed with appendicitis after feeling unwell arriving in Jeddah, and had to undergo surgery on Friday morning when his condition worsened following Thursday practice. Ferrari reserve driver Bearman received confirmation he would be replacing Sainz just a few hours before FP3, and the 18-year-old missed out on a spot in Q3 by just 0.036s as he qualified 11th.

“It’s definitely one of the most difficult tracks on the calendar for sure, being a street track and being so fast as well,” Leclerc said. “But he handled it perfectly.

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“As soon as he got in with the engineers this morning he had so much to understand in order for him to be ready that we didn’t have much time to speak. The only thing I said to him when he came this morning was like, ‘Are you excited?’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, I cannot wait!’ which I expected this answer. It was good to see the excitement for him, for his first race in Ferrari, and again he’s done a great job.”

Polesitter Max Verstappen was similarly impressed, saying he was paying attention to Bearman’s first laps in the Ferrari during final practice.