The Ferrari and Mercedes junior teams will be represented in a Prema intra-team Formula 2 battle, after Ferrari Driver Academy star Oliver Bearman was confirmed as Andrea Kimi Antonelli’s 2024 team-mate.
Mercedes demonstrated their faith in 17-year-old Antonelli, arguably the hottest prospect on the junior racing scene, by sending him straight to F2 off the back of his Formula Regional European Championship triumph.
Antonelli will race his rookie F2 season with Prema, the team with whom fellow Mercedes junior Frederik Vesti claimed a runner-up finish in the 2023 championship, but he is set to be pushed by his newly-confirmed team-mate.
Oliver Bearman returns to Prema for F2 2024
Additional reporting by Thomas Maher
18-year-old British Ferrari junior Bearman enjoyed a strong rookie F2 campaign with Prema in 2023, claiming four race wins and will return for his second campaign with the team looking to mount a title challenge.
There is every chance he will need to go through Antonelli if he is to succeed in that mission.
Reacting to the confirmation of a second season with Prema, Bearman said: “I’m really happy to continue for another year with Prema in Formula 2.
“Thanks to them, I have progressed a lot as a driver and as a person over the past two years and I’m keen to continue the work going into next season.
“I’m sure that, with the help of the Ferrari Driver Academy, 2024 could be a very good year for me.”
Bearman impressed Ferrari customer Haas with a pair of FP1 outings at the 2023 Mexican and Abu Dhabi GPs, while also representing the team in the post-season young drivers’ test.
He recently spoke of the importance of being fully prepared for any potential F1 grid call-up, which he hopes will include some private test sessions, this opportunity to stay sharp clearly benefitting Oscar Piastri after he enjoyed a strong F1 2023 rookie campaign with McLaren.
Asked by media, including PlanetF1.com, whether Piastri demonstrated the ideal rookie preparation for F1, Bearman replied: “Yeah, he showed that preparation is really important.
“Once you join F1 you’re going up against guys with a lot of races under their belt.
“Coming in as a rookie is a difficult job, so it’s something that we’ve thought about and it will be really important that before I start an F1 campaign, I need to be really prepared.
“Hopefully that looks like more FP1s and maybe some private testing as well. I don’t have any say on that. But in an ideal world that would be how I approach an F1 season.”
Like Antonelli, Bearman also boasts title-winning success on the junior racing scene, having claimed the Italian Formula 4 and ADAC F4 crowns in 2021.