Charles Leclerc lauds ‘incredible job’ from Oliver Bearman on Ferrari qualifying debut

Henry Valantine
Charles Leclerc waves to the crowd.

Charles Leclerc has a different team-mate on the other side of the Ferrari garage in Saudi Arabia.

Charles Leclerc has said Oliver Bearman did an “incredible job” after being parachuted into a Ferrari seat on short notice in Saudi Arabia on Friday.

The rookie replaced the unwell Carlos Sainz, who was undergoing surgery for appendicitis, but the 18-year-old qualified 11th for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with only one hour of practice to familiarise himself with the demands of the car.

Charles Leclerc praises ‘incredible job’ from Oliver Bearman on Ferrari debut

The British teenager is set to become the youngest ever Ferrari driver to start a Grand Prix on Saturday in his stand-in performance for Sainz, who said he is “feeling much better” following his surgery.

Bearman gladly gave up pole position for the feature race in Formula 2 in order to be promoted to Formula 1 this weekend, to make a debut in unlikely circumstances.

When asked about his temporary team-mate’s performance this weekend, having come to within 0.036s of making Q3 on Friday, Leclerc was impressed with what he saw.

“Well, first of all, I wish Carlos the speediest recovery,” Leclerc said after qualifying.

“And for Ollie, I mean, he has done an incredible job. Obviously, not having done FP1 and FP2 is quite a big disadvantage.

“He got into a car that he didn’t know on such a challenging track like it is in Jeddah and straightaway in FP3, he was on it.

“So it was good to see and I’m sure that it’s a very, very special weekend for him.

“I remember my first race in Formula 1, and I wasn’t in Ferrari and I had some months to prepare for that, so I cannot imagine how special it is for him to get the call this morning and to jump into a Ferrari on such a racetrack.

“So I hope we can have a score good points tomorrow, so that he keep those memories in his mind forever.” recommends

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For Bearman to head into a Ferrari in Jeddah is a daunting challenge in particular, given the tightness of the walls and the fact it houses the second-fastest average speed of any circuit on the calendar.

Given the scale of what’s in front of him, Leclerc explained that despite the physical demands of driving in Saudi Arabia, Bearman is doing an excellent job so far.

“Definitely one of the most difficult tracks of the of the calendar for sure,” Leclerc stated.

“Being a street track and so fast as well, but he handled it perfectly.

“I mean, as soon as he got into the [meetings] with the engineers this morning, he had so much to understand in order for him to be ready, that we didn’t have much time to speak.

“The only thing I told him when he came this morning, I was like ‘are you excited?’ and he was like ‘yeah, I cannot wait’, which I expected this answer.

“And it was good to see the excitement for him for his first race in Ferrari and, again, he’s done a great job.”

As for Leclerc himself, he will start the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from second place, behind Max Verstappen.

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