Lewis Hamilton delivers verdict on Oliver Bearman after ‘nearly taking me out!’

Michelle Foster
Lewis Hamilton and Oliver Bearman

Lewis Hamilton was impressed with "mega" Oliver Bearman

No longer to be the first Briton to race for Ferrari in a quarter of a century, Lewis Hamilton was impressed by Ferrari debutant Oliver Bearman, who almost cost him a Q3 spot in qualifying.

Bearman is unexpectedly making his Grand Prix debut this weekend in Saudi Arabia as he was called up by Ferrari to replace Carlos Sainz after the Spaniard underwent surgery for appendicitis.

Lewis Hamilton’s advice for Ollie Bearman ahead of Saudi Arabian GP

Despite only having a single practice hour before qualifying, the 18-year-old Briton put the SF-24 up into 11th place on the grid.

He missed out on a Q3 berth by a mere 0.036s, pipped to the final spot in the pole position shoot-out by seven-time World Champion Hamilton.

The 39-year-old, who will join Ferrari next season, was impressed with his compatriot.

“He nearly took me out!” Hamilton said. “He did such a great job.

“To jump in for FP3 without any practice and deliver like he has… mega, mega. Really impressed and it shows just what a talent he is. Also, the car looks really good and he has obviously got confidence straight away.”

Stepping into Sainz’s Ferrari on Friday, Bearman became the youngest-ever Ferrari driver and F1’s third youngest with only Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll younger when they made their debuts.

“I was 22 [on debut],” Hamilton added. “At 18 I was in F3 and I was nowhere near ready for F1 at 18 but the times are different.

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“If I had come in at 18, my career might not look how it has so I am glad I waited.

“But Max came early and others have done. Me having waited, that’s why I had 12 consecutive podiums in the first 12 races of my career, so I am glad I got that base.”

But having completed just one practice hour on Friday afternoon with minimal long runs, Hamilton says his compatriot faces a “massive challenge” in Saturday’s race.

But, he added, Bearman looks as if he’s up for it.

“He has not even done any long runs, he’s obviously had experience of F2 but it will be a massive challenge,” the Mercedes driver said.

“I think he’s ready, he looks in great shape and I think the car tended to be kind to the tyres in the last race.

“He just needs to keep it cool and just enjoy it.”

Read next: Carlos Sainz posts statement following ‘smooth operation’ on appendicitis