F1’s last five super subs as Oliver Bearman prepares for shock Ferrari debut

Sam Cooper
Nyck de Vries, Oliver Bearman and Liam Lawson

Oliver Bearman is the latest rookie to be handed an F1 debut.

Oliver Bearman has been given just a moment’s notice ahead of his F1 debut but how have others in his position fared in the past?

While rookies would prefer a lot of preparation ahead of their F1 debut, not to mention the full complement of practice sessions, Bearman’s situation has shown that cannot always be the case. With that in mind, here are the last five drivers to make super sub appearances.

Liam Lawson in for Daniel Ricciardo – 2023

When Daniel Ricciardo, himself a substitute for the sacked Nyck de Vries, broke his hand in Zandvoort, 21-year-old Liam Lawson found himself thrust to the main stage.

The Kiwi was with the Red Bull team at the time as Super Formula took a break between races but he would not have been expecting such a quick drop into an F1 seat.

Ricciardo’s absence was confirmed after FP2 meaning Lawson had just one practice session before qualifying and he surprised everyone with how at home he looked. He may have qualified 19th but he rose up to 13th during the race before scoring his first F1 points at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Lawson’s time in the car ended in Austin but he did enough to make him a strong favourite to be on the grid in 2025, if not sooner.

Nyck de Vries in for Alex Albon – 2022

Another appendix related issue saw Alex Albon sit out Monza after complications from surgery and De Vries was the one called in.

As to why the Dutchman was chosen, he was already familiar with the Williams car having driven it during FP1 in Spain and was also a long-time Mercedes reserve driver so would be comfortable with the engine.

De Vries then got his opportunity to actually race in F1 and he qualified eighth before remarkably finishing in the points.

His performance put him on the map and encouraged Red Bull to take a chance and put him in the AlphaTauri seat for 2023. Unfortunately for De Vries, he was unable to refind that Monza form and was replaced after the British Grand Prix.

Nico Hulkenberg in for Sergio Perez and Sebastian Vettel – 2020 and 2021

While the previous two were rookies, the third most recent super sub was definitely not. After being replaced at Renault by Esteban Ocon, Nico Hulkenberg found himself without a seat and so spent a couple of years on the sidelines.

But that did not mean he was entirely out of the sport. When Sergio Perez tested positive for COVID, Hulkenberg was drafted in to replace the Mexican for Racing Point at the 2020 British Grand Prix and 70th Anniversary Grand Prix.

Then in the following season, he was back but this time with the team under the guise of Aston Martin. Signed as a permanent reserve driver, Hulkenberg took the seat of his compatriot Sebastian Vettel after he tested positive for COVID ahead of the season opener in Bahrain.

For that race, Hulkenberg started 17th and finished in the same spot.

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Robert Kubica in for Kimi Raikkonen – 2021

After leaving Williams in 2019, Robert Kubica moved over to Alfa Romeo to become the team’s test and reserve driver but he was given the chance for a few more races to add to his long career.

Kimi Raikkonen tested positive for COVID ahead of the 2021 Dutch Grand Prix and Kubica came in to replace him. The Pole qualified 18th and finished the race in 15th before Kubica also appeared at the Italian Grand Prix, the 99th and last race of his F1 career.

Pietro Fittipaldi in for Romain Grosjean – 2020

Romain Grosjean’s memorable fiery crash in Bahrain towards the end of the 2020 season meant Haas needed a replacement for the final two grands prix of the year and they chose long-time reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi.

Fittipaldi, grandson of two-time World Champion Emerson, qualified 20th at his debut race before finishing 17th. In the following race in Abu Dhabi, the Brazilian-American came 19th.

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