Ferrari super sub Oliver Bearman belongs in F1 - but will he get 2025 seat?

After a headline-grabbing, exceptional F1 debut, can super sub Oliver Bearman earn a seat for 2025?

Oliver Bearman (GBR) Ferrari Reserve Driver. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah, Saudi
Oliver Bearman (GBR) Ferrari Reserve Driver. Formula 1 World Championship,…

Oliver Bearman rightly stole the headlines with an impressive F1 debut as an emergency stand-in for Ferrari at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The 18-year-old Briton was drafted in as a last-minute replacement for Ferrari regular Carlos Sainz, who was diagnosed with appendicitis and required immediate surgery.

Bearman marked himself out as an F1 star of the future by qualifying 11th on the grid - only narrowly missing Q3 - before keeping fellow countrymen Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton at bay in the race to finish seventh and score points at the first attempt.

Bearman’s mistake-free debut was made even more impressive given his late call-up, having only been notified of his grand prix cameo a couple of hours before final practice got underway on Friday. Before receiving the call from Ferrari, Bearman had been preparing for a Formula 2 race he had claimed pole position for.

Bearman’s performance was rightly lauded, with Charles Leclerc hailing his teammate’s debut as “incredible”, while Ferrari team principal Fred Vasseur was equally impressed.

“I think in this situation – and we've had a couple of times good young drivers into the car, not only at Ferrari, but on the grid – I would say the pace is, I don't want to say easy to have, but it's something they can achieve,” Vasseur said.

Oliver Bearman (GBR) Ferrari SF-24 Reserve Driver. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah,
Oliver Bearman (GBR) Ferrari SF-24 Reserve Driver. Formula 1 World…

“The fact he did a short weekend without FP1, FP2 without any mistake, for me it's unrealistic. Honestly, I was completely impressed by this in Jeddah, between the walls, skipping FP1, FP2, directly almost in quali."

What Bearman managed to achieve, in such a calm and unflappable manner, was outstanding and underlined that he belongs on the big stage.

How he handled and embraced the situation that fell his way was arguably even more impressive than the driving aspect. It showed maturity beyond his years. 

Someone who knows what Bearman experienced - albeit not the enormous pressure that comes with driving for Ferrari - is Liam Lawson, who debuted for RB (then AlphaTauri) as a late stand-in for the injured Daniel Ricciardo last year.

“One of the hardest things is the attention that comes with it,” Lawson said during an appearance on the Sky F1 podcast.

“The driving part is one thing but we basically spend our whole life driving cars in preparation for F1 that the driving part itself is not really the hardest part about it.

“It’s everything else that comes with it and one of those things is the media attention that you get. There’s no real prep that you can do for that.

“It’s the realisation that you have one race, and your whole future is going to be heavily judged on this one race. This is the one shot you are going to get to prove yourself in F1.

“It doesn’t really matter what you’ve done in other categories. At the end of the day, all F1 teams want to know is how you drive a Formula 1 car. Your whole future’s basically based on how you perform.”

What next for Bearman?

(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 and Oliver Bearman (GBR) Ferrari Reserve Driver on the drivers' parade.
(L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 and Oliver Bearman (GBR)…

Naturally, the immediate talk after Bearman’s starring display surrounded his future in F1, and whether he had done enough to warrant a place on the grid in 2025.

The feeling and response from many in the paddock was a resounding ‘yes’.

Bearman, who still has the majority of an F2 season to complete with Prema, admitted he hoped “a door could open” for him to make the full-time step up to F1 next season.

"I don't know what else I can do because I don't think I'll be in F1 for the rest of the year,” Bearman said. "So that was my goal, to do a great showing this weekend.

"I think I did a decent job, so that's alright and that's all I can do, keep pushing in F2 and cross my fingers, that's it."

One certainty is that a permanent seat at Ferrari is out of the question for the time being.

Leclerc is tied down to a long-term deal and with Hamilton making a shock switch from Mercedes in 2025 to take the seat currently held by Sainz, there is currently no room at the Italian team. 

Ferrari customer Sauber could be an option, but with Audi taking over from 2026 and holding considerable sway over future driver decisions, such a move seems unlikely.

Haas therefore appears the most obvious landing spot for Bearman.

The American outfit enjoys a technical partnership with Ferrari and receives a supply of engines and gearboxes, as well as other permitted transferable parts.

Oliver Bearman (GBR) Haas VF-23 Test Driver. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 23, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina
Oliver Bearman (GBR) Haas VF-23 Test Driver. Formula 1 World Championship,…

With experienced F1 duo Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg both out of contract at the end of the year, there are possible openings.

But team principal Ayao Komatsu admits it is not a foregone conclusion that Bearman will get a seat at Haas, despite his “amazing” debut.

"He deserves a chance next year, I guess," Komatsu said of Bearman.

"[But] penalty aside, Kev's done fantastic today. Nico delivered as well. So how can I sit here and say, [Bearman is] 'our driver for next year’?

"Based on today's performance, [it's] Nico and Kevin."

Bearman has given Ferrari and Haas food for thought, and he could yet further strengthen his case in the remainder of the F2 campaign. 

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