Rising star Bearman gears up for F1 debut
Britain will soon have a fourth Formula 1 driver when rising star Oliver Bearman takes to the wheel of the MoneyGram Haas F1 Team when he drives the VF-23 alongside Sir Lewis Hamilton, Lando Norris and George Russell for Free Practice 1 sessions at both this weekend’s Mexico City Grand Prix and in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The 18-year-old – who is a member of Motorsport UK’s elite Team UK performance programme – has already announced himself as one of the sport’s stellar young talents. Having first made his mark in the British karting scene, Ollie switched to single-seaters in 2020, winning both 2021 German and Italian F4 titles in emphatic style.
He then further impressed when finishing third in the 2022 FIA Formula 3 Championship on debut before stepping up to FIA Formula 2 at the start of this season. Once again the results have been eye-catching, with four wins and three pole positions to date.
“In truth it’s been a bit up and down season with highs and lows,” Bearman reflected when we caught up with him earlier this month at PFI where he was supporting his younger brother Thomas who is racing in Rotax Juniors.
“Looking back, I kick myself for some silly mistakes but it’s a tough championship, the level is really high and the cars are quite demanding. Overall, though, I’m happy with the progression made and feel like I’ve come a long way both as a driver and mentally, which is really important.”
Unsurprisingly these standout performances haven’t gone unnoticed in the F1 paddock, and the highly promising teenager is a valued member of the Ferrari Driver Academy.
As part of that programme, Ollie made his F1 debut earlier this month during a private test at the Italian company’s legendary Fiorano Circuit test track near Maranello driving a 2021 Ferrari SF-21. And, now, he is all set to for his first Free Practice sessions which will come with the Ferrari-powered MoneyGram Haas F1 Team.
“It was a milestone to get that run at Fiorano – really amazing,” he grinned. “To be in a red Ferrari is a bit of a childhood dream and Fiorano is a really iconic track. You see all those videos of [Michael] Schumacher and others who I look up to pulling out of that garage and now I’ve managed to do the same thing. It was really special.”
That ‘special’ introduction to F1 has further whetted his appetite for his two forthcoming FP1 outings with Haas.
“It’s going to be super cool,” he admitted. “However it will be very busy in Abu Dhabi as I’ll being racing F2, too. I’ve then got post-season testing, so that whole week is going to be pretty crazy. Then, hopefully, my brother will be racing the weekend afterwards in the world Finals in Bahrain, so I’ll be having a tour of the Middle East!”
As for Ollie’s plans for 2024? “It looks like another year of F2,” he revealed. “It doesn’t really make sense to take a year out of racing whether that be as a reserve driver or something similar. I’ll have a very good opportunity to do something good in F2 – my goal is to win that championship and thus give myself the best opportunity to jump into F1 after that.”
Click here for the full PFI interview with Ollie Bearman which includes more on his meteoric rise from British Karting Championships to a prized place among the Grand Prix stars.