F1 World Champion offers crucial advice to fast-rising British prospect

Oliver Harden
Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez at the Austrian Grand Prix. Spielberg, July 2023.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez battle at the start of the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix.

Jenson Button, the 2009 F1 World Champion, has urged Oliver Bearman to enjoy the journey rising through the ranks as the teenager targets a seat on the grid.

Bearman emerged as a potential future star during his debut F2 season in 2023, claiming four victories for the Prema team to claim sixth in the standings.

The Ferrari junior driver also appeared in two F1 practice sessions for Haas, impressing behind the wheel of the VF-23 car in Mexico and Abu Dhabi.

F1 World Champion Jenson Button offers advice to young upstart

The 18-year-old – born on the day Kimi Raikkonen won the Spanish Grand Prix for McLaren in 2005 – will be among the favourites to join the likes of Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc and George Russell as a GP2/F2 title winner in 2024.

Appearing as a Sky F1 pundit, Button – who won the 2009 title with the Brawn GP team – has stressed the importance of savouring the struggle on the way to F1.

Asked if he had any advice to relay to Bearman, Button said: “The first thing would be don’t rush it. Don’t rush it.

“The journey is a big part of it, getting to Formula 1. When you’re in Formula 1, you feel the stress – as you see in a lot of drivers in the paddock.

“The journey to getting there is just as good and just as important as your time in F1. We’re looking forward to [watching the] journey.”

Button’s fellow pundit Karun Chandhok, who made 11 grand prix starts for the HRT and Lotus teams across 2010/11, added: “I just say you’ve got to keep your feet on the ground.

“I think we see a lot of people arrive into this paddock – not just drivers but [people] who come to F1 – and there’s this sort of F1 swagger that kicks in.

“I think it’s such a tough business underneath the glossy exterior, you’ve just got to keep your feet on the ground and head in the game.”

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Bearman believes winning the F2 title has to be the target for 2024 after an impressive first season in F1’s feeder series, but has admitted that it will be the toughest challenge of his career to date.

He said: “F1 is the next step, but it’s a bit more difficult than than the previous ones.

“I wouldn’t be in F1 next year, I will be in F2 again and the goal is clear: second year in F2, I have to win it.

“So hopefully I can do a good enough job to [be] in [F1] one day.”

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