Oliver Bearman back behind wheel for Ferrari with Australian GP status unclear

Jamie Woodhouse
Oliver Bearman smiles in the Ferrari garage.

Oliver Bearman smiles.

Ferrari are keeping Oliver Bearman sharp with Carlos Sainz yet to be confirmed in the cockpit for the Australian Grand Prix.

Sainz missed media day at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix but was back on duty for Thursday practice, with that proving to be his final involvement in the race weekend as the Spaniard underwent successful surgery for appendicitis the following day.

Ferrari put Oliver Bearman through his paces at Fiorano

In Sainz’s absence, up stepped Ferrari’s 18-year-old reserve driver Bearman, who went from putting his Prema on Formula 2 feature race pole to slotting into the Ferrari SF-24, knowing he would have just one hour of practice before heading into his first experience of F1 qualifying.

Bearman excelled, narrowly missing out on a top-10 grid slot before delivering a stellar drive to P7 on Grand Prix Saturday in Jeddah, comfortably keeping McLaren’s Lando Norris and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton at bay despite them being armed with soft tyres versus Bearman’s worn mediums. And the Brit got back behind the wheel for Ferrari on Wednesday.

Ferrari took to social media to confirm that Bearman was testing the Ferrari F1-75 at Fiorano, the challenger used by the Scuderia in 2022.

In a crucial boost to young drivers gathering F1 experience, 2024 marks the first time where an F1 challenger designed in this ground effect era can be used as part of a team’s previous car testing programme.

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Bearman will be at the upcoming Australian Grand Prix, competing in either F2 or F1 once more if Sainz is not ready to return.

Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur did though describe Sainz’s recovery thus far as “amazing”, the Spaniard already back in the Ferrari garage on Saudi Arabian Grand Prix race day to take in the action.

“I don’t know, honestly,” said Vasseur when asked if Sainz is certain for Melbourne.

“The recovery so far is amazing but the fact that he was able to come today to be with the team was a very good sign and a very good support for us.

“Now, he will fly back with me tomorrow and have one week of complete rest. We’ll take a decision on when he has to fly to Melbourne in one week’s time, but I’m quite optimistic.”

As for Bearman, while a second Ferrari outing would be a huge opportunity after turning many heads with that debut showing, he hopes that Sainz is well enough to return to duties in the SF-23 for the Australian GP.

“Carlos is looking well, so I’m glad he’s having a good recovery,” Bearman told Sky F1. “At the end, it’s not my decision to make.

“If he feels good, and I hope he does, then he’ll be in the car in Melbourne. At the end it’s his car, it’s his championship, so I hope the best for him.”

Bearman moved into P10 in the early F1 2024 Drivers’ Championship standings with his six points scored in Saudi Arabia.

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