Britain’s Oliver Bearman to join Haas F1 team; A journey that started in UK karting

Thursday 04 July 2024

Great Britain’s Oliver Bearman has signed for MoneyGram Haas F1 Team and will compete for the US-squad on a multi-year contract beginning with the 2025 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

The 19-year-old Scuderia Ferrari Driver Academy member is currently an official reserve driver for the team while contesting the FIA Formula 2 Championship for Prema Racing – Bearman collecting his first win of the 2024 campaign last weekend in Austria in the Sprint race to add to his tally of four victories from a stellar rookie season in 2023.

Bearman’s racing journey started in the UK in karting with the Bambino category for drivers aged 6 – 7. He then moved into the ultra competitive Honda Cadet class, racing mainly in the south of England. Aged just 11 he then started racing in the Mini Class.

Motorsport UK Head of Karting, Dan Parker, can remember seeing the young Ollie on track in the early days, “Ollie was a really polite, nice young lad and he particularly shone during the races where you needed to be able to read a race – understanding when to push or when to go with the pack in the Cadet class. I spent a whole day with him testing tyres at a foggy and damp track and he had the ability to drive consistently all day was super impressive.

“He was supported by his dad and other family members, who were really passionate about the karting business – especially dad! There’s a lot of noise and competition within the karting paddocks, but it all seemed to pass Ollie by – he was able just to concentrate on his racing and leave the arguing to the grown-ups!”

An ability that seems to have served him well on his F1 debut.

Bearman then moved to compete in the National Championships, where he managed a best finish of second in 2016 and 2017, driving in the Honda Cadet category. Parker again picks up the story, “It was an unconventional route to take at that point in time. Many karters will move up through a well-established ladder racing in Europe from a young age then race in the FIA OK Kart Classes, but Ollie went through the traditional British Honda Cadet Classes then onto the Mini Class and then finally Junior. He then raced in both IAME and Rotax Classes before making the move into F4, which just shows that there can be a credible pathway from these classes to cars.”

Bearman’s talent was clear as he smashed the competition in 2019 and 2020 on the international scene in karting, and then into German and Italian F4 in 2020.

Motorsport UK Sporting and Safety Director, John Ryan, recalls seeing Ollie in Monza, competing in the last round of the 2021 Italian F4 Championship, “We regularly keep track of our up and coming drivers competing on the international scene – you do see talent emerging and if it’s needed then we can provide support or guidance.

“With Ollie it was clear he had talent. I remember seeing him on track in Italy. It was wet and dry at the same time as the conditions kept changing, but it really did not seem to stress him out at all. In fact he absolutely excelled – he seemed to know exactly where the grip was and how hard he could push. I believe he was the only driver able to stay on track at the first famous chicane where many misjudge their braking distances in such conditions taking to the relief road. That’s a mark of a great driver, and even though young, he was so calm. His driving skills in the changing conditions were from the Senna text book. Ollie went on to win all three races that weekend – adding the Italian championship to his win in German F4.

“I also recall speaking to a senior member of the Ferrari team shortly after this race where it was confirmed that Ollie would be making the jump straight to FIA F3. Ollie proved that he was more than ready – as he did jumping into F1 with no notice!”

After the hop up to F3 in 2022, where he claimed third overall, it was then to F2. It was all looking promising, until an F1 call up with Ferrari where he impressed and now, it seems, the sky is the limit…

While the talent is now extremely clear, it’s also the humility that shines through for John: “Although he’s clearly developing into a superstar, Ollie still has his feet to the ground and gives back to the sport. He was a highlight for many aspiring kart drivers at the last round of the British Kart Championship in 2023 where spent the weekend in the paddock and even stayed behind to present the trophies.”

Bearman will race for Prema Racing in Formula 2 this weekend at the British Grand Prix as one of 17 British drivers racing across F1, F2, F3 and Porsche Supercup.