Haas heap praise on ‘very promising’ British Ferrari junior after maiden FP1 bow

Jamie Woodhouse
Oliver Bearman makes his F1 debut with Haas in FP1 at the Mexican Grand Prix.

Ferrari junior Oliver Bearman driving for Haas.

Ferrari junior Oliver Bearman made a huge impression on Haas’ trackside engineering director Ayao Komatsu with his FP1 debut in Mexico.

The 18-year-old Brit, and member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, has established himself as one of the brightest racing prospects as a multi-time race winner in his rookie Formula 2 campaign.

And the next major step in his career arrived at the Mexican Grand Prix, where he made his F1 debut in the opening practice session with Ferrari’s customer team Haas.

Haas “can’t fault” impressive Oliver Bearman debut

Bearman faced a stern challenge on the other side of the garage in F1 veteran Nico Hulkenberg, but turned heads by ending FP1 only two-tenths down on the German racer, neither driver nailing their push lap on the soft tyre when at its peak performance.

“I don’t think you can fault him, he’s done really well,” said Komatsu.

“But all the way from the very initial preparation, he has been very professional, very, very easy to deal with and then for every single process perfectly complying.

“And then today is the calmness procedures, he understood. He understood the objectives of every single run. He didn’t put a foot wrong really and he didn’t maximise the soft tyre. That lap time difference, Nico’s lap wasn’t great either, so you can’t read too much into it.

“But in terms of his feedback he had really good engagement with his engineers. Really really good job, really impressed.”

Asked if anything from Bearman’s performance surprised Haas, Komatsu said the way the Brit took everything in his stride was the surprise.

“The surprise is how good he managed everything really,” Komatsu confirmed.

“Honestly, I can’t pick a moment where from all the way through the preparation, something was frustrating or difficult, including his management.

“It’s been really a smooth process. So it’s been a pleasure to work with him and his management team.”

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Bearman certainly took full advantage of his opportunity, Komatsu agreeing with the claim that the Brit had made the best impression possible, delivering a performance which had exceeded the Haas trackside engineering director’s expectations.

“Yes, I don’t think you can expect much better and then yes, certainly better than my expectations were,” he confirmed.

“Not that my expectations were low, but that was so professional and he didn’t put a foot wrong and communication and the feedback was really good as well.

“So really, I’ve got nothing to complain about. It was a really impressive FP1.”

And it will not be the last FP1 which Bearman partakes in with Haas, Komatsu confirming that Bearman will be in the VF-23 again for FP1 at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with further sessions possible in F1 2024.

“We’ve got another session planned with him in Abu Dhabi, so really looking forward to that,” said Komatsu, “and hopefully more sessions next year as well.

“It’s very promising.”

Hulkenberg has been linked to a Sauber drive for 2025 ahead of their union with Audi, which could potentially open the door for a Haas race seat should Bearman keep the momentum going.

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