Revealed: The driver poised to replace Kevin Magnussen as rare race ban looms

Michelle Foster
Kevin Magnussen serious

Kevin Magnussen is two points away from a race ban

In line for a second unscheduled F1 call-up as Kevin Magnussen closes in on a race ban, Oliver Bearman will be behind the wheel of the Haas VF-23 in Friday’s opening practice at the Emilia Romagna Grand Pix.

That marks just the first of the Briton’s six FP1 runs with team principal Ayao Komatsu hinting at a 2025 race seat having dubbed the Bearman-Haas combination a “very good package”.

Haas won’t base Oliver Bearman verdict on F2 results alone

Bearman, a Ferrari junior, stepped onto the Formula 1 stage last season when he contested two practice sessions as Haas fulfilled their mandatory junior driver commitments. Such were his performances, Haas continued with the Briton this season.

However, it was Ferrari who gave the 19-year-old his Formula 1 Grand Prix debut when he was parachuted into the car ahead of qualifying at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after Carlos Sainz fell ill with appendicitis.

Bearman wowed as he raced from 11th on the grid to seventh at the chequered flag.

Returning to his Formula 2 commitments, Bearman has not set the stage alight with Prema scoring just two races in two full race weekends.

However, Komatsu, who is not only seeking a replacement for the Audi-bound Nico Hulkenberg but potentially a substitute for Magnussen should he receive an automatic race ban for hitting 12 penalty points, says Haas won’t base their decision on his F2 performance alone.

“It is a combination; he needs to perform in F2, for sure,” the Haas team boss said.

“But when we work with him directly, you understand all the ins and outs, all the environment or the reasoning for certain things happening.

“So yeah, I’d put probably more weight on what we do with him, how he performs in our environment. But of course he needs to perform in F2. That’s clear.”

“It’s completely open,” Komatsu added. “We’ve got six sessions lined up for him, so we will see the first of that in Imola. We are really looking forward to see how we can develop him and how well we can work together.

“I’ve said it many times before, he is very impressive… I have nothing to complain [about]. It’s a very good package [Haas and Bearman].”

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Oliver Bearman could yet race for Haas this season

Haas may yet race Bearman before this season is over given that Magnussen is closing in on an automatic race ban.

The Dane scored four penalty points in Miami to bring his tally to 10, and he won’t lose any of those points before 9 March 2025.

The team though, is primarily looking at the Briton with an eye on 2025 as they have an open seat after Hulkenberg said a multi-year deal with Sauber, who’ll be rebranded Audi in 2026.

Komatsu denied Hulkenberg’s exit is forcing Haas to accelerate their FP1 programme for Bearman.

“It doesn’t change [the programmes] – because you can’t as a team, you’ve got an objective for that weekend, you have a clear idea of what you need to get out from FP1, FP2, FP3 to prepare for your qualy and race. So that approach doesn’t change,” he said.

“But it’s more over does the driver understand that objective? Can he play a strong part in fulfilling that kind of objectives?

“If this young driver is only interested in, let’s say, going flat out everywhere showing the world how quick he is – that’s not really mature approach.

“But Ollie is not like that. What Ollie’s shown in Mexico and then Abu Dhabi, he’s got the speed. But he really understands the bigger picture, and he can play a positive part in contributing to the team. I would like to see the continuation of that.

“Also, at some stage he will face an issue; maybe you’ve got the car issue that maybe he loses half a session? How does he react to that? That kind of adversity. So that’d be an interesting one to see.”

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