Ferrari reveal just how quickly Oliver Bearman got up to speed in an F1 car

Oliver Bearman immediately impressed Ferrari with how quickly he got up to speed the first time he drove an F1 car.

Oliver Bearman at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Oliver Bearman at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Oliver Bearman was up to speed almost immediately when he drove an F1 car for the first time towards the end of last year.

The British teenager was handed his first outing in an F1 car by Ferrari at their Fiorano test track in late October, and Bearman made an instant impression.

Bearman went on to make his free practice debut for Haas in Mexico. The Formula 2 racer also took part in FP1 in Abu Dhabi and post-season testing for Haas.

Ferrari have admitted they were surprised by just how quickly Bearman found his feet in F1 machinery.

“One thing that surprised me straight away the first day in Fiorano in October of ’23,” Ferrari's head of track engineering Matteo Togninalli said.

“He went out for the first time in his life with a Formula 1 car and like the third lap that he did at Fiorano – a new track, new car, new situation – he was already up to speed. So that is talent.

“He was a guy, 18-years-old and you would never expect that straight away he was up to speed. The other aspect to me that is paying off quite a bit is he is very calm, he’s very focused, he’s not panicking.

"So I think he has a great future. I hope he can achieve whatever he wants in life and I’m sure he can.”

Bearman received a last-minute call-up to race for Ferrari in Saudi Arabia after Carlos Sainz was diagnosed with appendicitis.

The 18-year-old starred on his F1 debut in Jeddah, qualifying 11th on the grid before going on to claim points with a seventh-place finish in his first grand prix.

“We are very proud and very happy because he jumped into the car in FP3 in Saudi and was up to speed straightaway,” Togninalli added.

Ferrari’s Driver Academy boss Jock Clear said he had “never seen anything better” than Bearman’s debut performance, given his inexperience.

“I’ve often said about Oliver, he will get better and better the closer he gets to F1, because F1 recognises real intelligence,” Clear told the F1 Nation podcast. “Drivers that can think their way around situations really, really shine in F1. Ollie is super sharp, super clever, and I think that's what he's demonstrated this week.

“We know he's quick. We've seen him in our car. We know that he can drive a car fast. But the way he's approached the weekend, the way he approached the race, step by step – you've got to get off the grid and you've got to get alongside some fairly feisty opposition who are going to get their elbows out. He did that cleanly.

"We said if he comes around the first lap with all four wheels still on, we'll be really happy. He did that. He was still in P11, so he held his position off the grid, and from then on he just grew into the race.

“You have to recognise every lap of the race was another 10% experience for Ollie in this car, so by the time he'd done half the race, he’d doubled his experience in this car. He was learning super fast, but he never overstretched himself. I think that's the thing I'm most proud of from him.”

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