Formula 1: 'Total package’ teenage star set for full-time drive in 2025?

England's Oliver Bearman impressed everyone with his short-notice Formula 1 debut with Ferrari. Could it earn him a shot on the grid next season?

Oliver Bearman, Ferrari, Formula 1
Oliver Bearman, Ferrari, Formula 1 / Clive Rose/GettyImages

Picture the scene. You’re a young racing driver with dreams of becoming a Formula 1 star. You’ve been in and around the slowest team on the grid for some experience, but have never actually raced in a Formula 1 Grand Prix. Then, on short notice, you’re given the call to jump into a car – for real. And it’s a Ferrari.

Opportunities don’t get much bigger, and the pressure doesn’t get much higher. But Oliver Bearman took it all in his stride, and performed so well that people are now talking about him as a potential full-time driver on the grid for 2025.

Bearman’s opportunity came after Carlos Sainz endured a nasty bout of appendicitis that rendered him unable to continue his Saudi Arabian Grand Prix weekend after FP2.

So Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur put in a call to Bearman, who had just qualified on pole for the Formula 2 race at the same Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Bearman swapped race suits, joined the Ferrari garage, and produced quite a remarkable debut in Saudi Arabia.

He hit the ground running in FP3 as he quickly got to grips with the Ferrari SF-24. Sure, he already knew the Jeddah circuit through his Formula 2 sessions earlier in the week and last season, but the speeds were markedly different – his Q2 time in the Ferrari was almost 14 seconds faster than his Formula 2 pole time. But Bearman dealt with it all like a seasoned pro.

His times were right there with seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton through practice and qualifying, with the Mercedes driver bumping the youngster out of Q3 by just 0.034 seconds. It meant that, after going 10th fastest in FP3, he qualified 11th in Q2. 

If people were impressed with his practice and qualifying performance, Bearman’s display in the race took the excitement about the young Englishman to new levels. 

In a mature, controlled drive, he stayed clear of trouble, executed his race strategy without fuss, and passed Zhou Guanyu and Nico Hulkenberg en route to a seventh place finish, holding off hard-charging compatriots Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton in a tense final couple of laps.

'So impressive'

It meant that Bearman finished his first ever Formula 1 race with a top 10 finish, six world championship points, and the fifth fastest lap of the Grand Prix, faster than the likes of George Russell’s Mercedes, Sergio Perez’s Red Bull, and Oscar Piastri’s McLaren. He impressed the watching fans, too, who voted Bearman their Driver of the Day.

There are now strong rumors suggesting Bearman has put himself firmly in the frame or a full-time drive for next season.

The most likely option would appear to be Haas. He is already registered as the team’s reserve driver, and impressed in two FP1 appearances for the team, which use Ferrari power units, last season. 

His emergence is well timed, too, with new Haas team boss Ayao Komatsu needing to make decisions on the future of his two current drivers, Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg. Their contracts both expire at the end of this season.

With a host of seats potentially becoming available due to a host of driver contracts expiring after this year, Bearman could be a very appealing option for Komatsu, who admitted that the young gun is “absolutely” on his radar for next season.

Komatsu and the Haas management should get to see a lot more of Bearman in action, with the English ace set to be on track, in a Haas, for six FP1 sessions throughout the season. His two FP1 outings for the team last season already made a big impression on Komatsu, who told Sky Sports F1, “Last year in FP1 sessions in Mexico and Abu Dhabi, straight away it was obvious that he’s the total package. He is so impressive.”

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Following gushing praise like that, if Bearman continues to impress when he jumps in the Haas later this season, there's a real chance we could see a teenager on the grid in a full-time drive next year.