Ollie Bearman delivered a faultless first appearance in modern Formula 1 machinery at the Mexico City Grand Prix, according to Haas’ director of engineering Ayao Komatsu.
The Ferrari young driver was rewarded for a strong rookie season in Formula 2 by being given two FP1 outings for Haas in Mexico and Abu Dhabi this year. At just 18 years old, Bearman stated on Thursday that he would simply be trying to make a good impression, and after an FP1 where was 0.3s off teammate Nico Hulkenberg — by far the closest gap of the rookie drivers — Komatsu was suitably impressed.
“I don’t think you can fault him; he’s done really well,” Komatsu said. “But all the way from the initial preparation, he’s been very professional — very, very easy to deal with in every single process. I have nothing to complain about.
“And then today, with the calmness, he understood procedures, he understood the objectives of every single run. He didn’t put a foot wrong, really. I mean, he didn’t maximize the soft tire [but] that lap time difference — Nico’s lap wasn’t great either so you can’t read too much into it — but in terms of his feedback, it was really good, engagement with his engineers, really good job. Really impressed.”
Komatsu says Bearman has exceeded expectations, with the first appearance potentially setting him up for more outings in 2024.
“We have got another session planned with him in Abu Dhabi, so I’m really looking forward to that, and then hopefully more sessions next year as well. It’s very promising,” he said.
Bearman himself was content with his first appearance on an F1 weekend, although he felt he left lap time on the table with a moment in the middle sector on his first soft-tire run.
“My first goal was to have a clean session, and we did that, which is the main thing,” Bearman said. “I’m really happy to have just delivered a clean session to start with. Second of all, I got up to speed quite fast; I felt I had good confidence with the car. Yeah, more or less I’m happy.
“There’s always a few things that…it was my first time doing everything, my first time on the soft tire and my first long runs. I will do better the second time, but for a first time I was quite happy.
“I wanted to do a good [lap]. I wanted to go to what I felt was the limit. I was a bit weak in Turn 7 and the performance on the hard tire, so I decided, ‘I have confidence with the car, let’s see what it can do.’ I was a bit out of shape out of [Turn 7], and then that whole sequence was in trouble, so I had to abort that lap, unfortunately. For sure with the soft that we have, the first lap is the fastest, so a bit unlucky.”