Nico Hulkenberg applies pressure back on Oliver Bearman after Haas links intensify

Henry Valantine
Oliver Bearman in the Australia paddock.

Oliver Bearman raised eyebrows with his superb debut performance for Ferrari in Jeddah.

While Oliver Bearman has had his name linked to a Haas seat next year, Nico Hulkenberg believes there is now “quite a bit of pressure on him” to deliver in Formula 2.

Bearman climbed into a Ferrari at short notice to replace Carlos Sainz in Jeddah last time out, qualified 11th and raced his way to 7th, passing Hulkenberg en route as the teenager impressed the entire paddock with his debut.

Nico Hulkenberg: ‘Pressure’ is on Oliver Bearman upon F2 return

Having already earned pole position for the feature race around Jeddah in Formula 2, Bearman was pulled from his regular race seat to make his Formula 1 bow with the Scuderia, having been in the paddock on reserve duties and filling in for Sainz, who had to undergo appendicitis surgery.

He beat a host of experienced campaigners to score points on debut at the last round, earning plaudits throughout the paddock for stepping up in the way he did.

Hulkenberg joined that praise for the 18-year-old, with the Briton having already taken part in his first FP1 sessions with Haas last season.

“I don’t know what took him so long to get past me if we were that slow, it took him five laps in the second-fastest car,” Hulkenberg joked to reporters in Australia, referencing Bearman’s radio message that the Haas was ‘so slow’ in race trim.

“Last year he was doing a good job in Mexico and in Abu Dhabi [in FP1], I thought he did a solid job then.

“I think he did a solid job also in Jeddah, drove a good race, no mistakes. He’s in the second-best car after all, and you see how powerful and how valuable that is, and what kind of difference that makes.

“So obviously, in a way, it’s a bit tough for everyone else in the midfield and for us to see that. But that’s how it is.

“But I think obviously, he raced there last year in F2, he’s done F2 quali and stuff, and I think he’s done quite a lot of simulator stuff for the for the F1 car, too, so it looked that he felt at home very quickly, and it looked like he was well prepared.”

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Bearman’s performance has immediately put him on the radar for a potential place on the 2025 grid, with his extended free practice programme with Haas this year suggesting that he could even be in line for a drive there next season.

This would mean one of Hulkenberg or Kevin Magnussen would have to make way if that was the case, and when that possibility was put to the German, he was quick to dismiss it – saying the 18-year-old instead needs to perform to his best when he returns to Formula 2.

“I think it’s very early and way too early to say that,” Hulkenberg responded to the possibility of one of the current Haas duo having to part the team for the teenager.

“I think he’s got a big job on his hands in F2 first of all, because otherwise, if he’s not doing well there, this Jeddah race is going to be forgotten in two days.

“You know how this business works, so I think [there is] quite a bit of pressure on him there to deliver now in F2 actually.

“If you get an opportunity, you have to make it work and Jeddah showed [he did], 100%. But he’s obviously a Ferrari junior and if he keeps performing strongly in F2, I think he will definitely get a chance eventually.”

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