Ferrari reveal ‘stupid’ reason experienced F1 racer snubbed for Oliver Bearman in Jeddah

Jamie Woodhouse
Oliver Bearman after his Ferrari qualifying debut.

Oliver Bearman after his F1 qualifying debut with Ferrari.

Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur said he found Antonio Giovinazzi’s 2023 schedule “stupid” and so re-worked the reserve driver role for F1 2024, opening the door for Oliver Bearman to debut in Saudi Arabia.

With Carlos Sainz undergoing successful appendicitis surgery on Friday in Saudi Arabia, Ferrari had to make a late call to pull their 18-year-old reserve Bearman from Formula 2 duties – having put his Prema on feature race pole – and prepare him for his Formula 1 debut.

Ferrari took advantage of Oliver Bearman F2 schedule

The decision came as a surprise to some, who thought Ferrari would have turned to an experienced F1 racer in their ranks, former Alfa Romeo driver Giovinazzi. The Italian boasts 62 Grand Prix starts and now races for Ferrari’s Hypercar programme, as does Robert Shwartzman, who was also an option.

Giovinazzi held designated Ferrari reserve driver status from 2017-2023, though Vasseur opted to relieve Giovinazzi of that responsibility for each F1 round ahead of the new season, saying he found it “stupid” to put that burden on him alongside his World Endurance Championship commitments.

So, the fact that Bearman was already in Saudi Arabia, initially in an F2 capacity, meant he got the nod to replace Sainz.

“I took the decision in the winter because I found it a bit stupid last year to ask Antonio to do 22 or 24 races when he was doing in parallel the LMH programme,” Vasseur told media at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

“The LMH is quite important for us – it’s a huge challenge – and I don’t want to ask Antonio or Shwartzman to travel with us and to do F1 the week after Qatar [the WEC season-opener], and a race in between.

“It’s why we decided when Ollie’s with us, he will be the reserve, and when he’s not with us, he’ll be in the sim.” recommends

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Bearman wowed on debut in Jeddah as he raced to a P7 finish and will once more be present at the Australian Grand Prix, though it is not yet decided whether that will be for F2, or if he will be needed again to stand-in for Sainz.

Either way, Vasseur stressed that F2 is Bearman’s focus for the year, where he now has serious work to do to join the title race, while he is also scheduled to appear in select FP1 session with Ferrari customer team Haas.

“It’s a good signal for Ollie for sure, it’s an important milestone,” said Vasseur of Bearman’s eye-catching Saudi Arabian GP performance.

“In Melbourne and Imola he will be back on the F2 project, and the most important challenge for Ollie will be this one.

“He will start soon the FP1 sessions with Haas, and this will be important also for us to give him experience and mileage in the car. But for sure with this one [Jeddah] he has the result in the pocket already.”

Bearman’s P7 on debut places him P10 in the early F1 2024 Drivers’ Championship standings.

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