Why replacing Carlos Sainz could cost Ollie Bearman a chance at F2 title glory

Thomas Maher
Ollie Bearman, F2, Prema, 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Oliver Bearman takes Carlos Sainz's seat for the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Ollie Bearman replaces the ill Carlos Sainz for Saudi Arabia, with a quirk in the F2 regulations costing him any chance of racing in his usual series.

Carlos Sainz will sit out the rest of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with the Ferrari driver having been diagnosed with appendicitis following two days of illness. In his place steps up Formula 2 driver Ollie Bearman, with the F2 regulations denying him from also taking part in his usual championship.

Why the F2 regulations stop Ollie Bearman from racing in two championships

Bearman, who is racing with Prema in Formula 2 this season, was scheduled to take part in the Saudi Arabia event and had taken pole position for the feature race.

Having gone without points in the opening round in Bahrain, Bearman needed a strong weekend in Jeddah to kickstart his campaign in a year where the Ferrari Academy driver is expected to fight for the title.

But while Ferrari’s statement confirming Sainz is out of the Grand Prix with Bearman taking his place means the Briton will not take part in the rest of the F2 weekend, it’s not a Ferrari decision that has cost Bearman the chance of F2 glory this weekend.

Rather, it’s a quirk in the Formula 2 rulebook.

According to Article 26.5 of the FIA Formula 2 regulations, “Any driver nominated to race by a Competitor participating in the FIA Formula One World Championship will not be permitted to participate in the FIA Formula 2 Championship in the same Competition.”

Article 10.4.a also lays down the law to the drivers, albeit in a far less defined manner: “FIA Formula 2 is prioritised over any other obligations in relation to other championships under any circumstance.”

As a result, by being called up to replace Sainz, Bearman forgoes any chance of taking any points in F2 this weekend and, after two rounds, is likely to be well adrift in the championship fight with two of the 14 rounds completed.

Who is Ollie Bearman?

The 18-year-old Englishman from Essex was named as one of the finalists of the Ferrari Driver Academy’s Scouting World Final in late 2021, and was signed to Ferrari a few weeks later.

Winner of the 2021 Italian F4 and ADAC F4 championships, he finished third in the 2022 F3 series and sixth in his first year in F2 in 2023. He races with Prema in Formula 2 in 2024, where his teammate is the highly-rated Italian and Mercedes junior Andrea Kimi Antonelli.

Bearman took part in two practice sessions with Haas in 2023, driving in FP1 in Mexico and Abu Dhabi as the American team fulfilled their rookie driver requirements by fielding the Ferrari junior.

He also drove in the post-season young drivers’ test in Abu Dhabi, and was appointed a Ferrari reserve driver for 2024 – sharing the role with Robert Shwartzman and Antonio Giovinazzi. He is also the reserve driver for Haas this year.

He’ll race with the temporary number 38 on his Ferrari in Saudi Arabia.

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