Saudi Arabian GP: Ollie Bearman impresses, Zhou crashes, and Verstappen claims P1

Michelle Foster
Oliver Bearman in action for Ferrari

Oliver Bearman is the youngest-ever rookie to drive for Ferrari.

Max Verstappen set the pace in the final practice hour ahead of qualifying for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but Zhou Guanyu and Sauber face a race against time to repair his car in time after a big crash at Turn 7.

Oliver Bearman, replacing Carlos Sainz who requires surgery having been diagnosed with appendicitis, was 10th fastest. The Ferrari junior was seven-tenths slower than his team-mate Charles Leclerc.

Oliver Bearman became Ferrari’s youngest-ever rookie

All eyes were on the Ferrari garage in the build-up to final practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix with the team forced into a driver change after Carlos Sainz came down ill with appendicitis and required surgery.

Ferrari called up Formula 2 driver Bearman to fill in for the Spaniard, the Briton swapping his Prema and the feature race pole position to become the youngest-ever Ferrari rookie.

The 18-year-old was immediately out of the pits and onto the track with his opening gambit a 1:33.1. He went on to shave two seconds off his time as the rest of the field ventured out of the pits.

Lewis Hamilton, who was running a different rear wing to Thursday with more downforce, went quickest with a 1:30.2 putting him 0.024s up on the Ferrari rookie with George Russell third. recommends

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It, however, was all change when Red Bull came out to play with Sergio Perez P1 on his first flying lap, a 1:29.5, and Max Verstappen second.

Charles Leclerc, running the medium tyres to the Red Bull’s softs, went three-tenths quicker only for Verstappen to hit back with a 1:28.9. Kevin Magnussen in the Haas shot up to third.

At the other end of the timesheet sat Logan Sargeant after the Williams driver clipped the wall and damaged his FW46. “Front left’s gone,” he said. “I can’t turn right.”

There was more drama as Verstappen reported he “hit something in Turn 10” while Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll played in the traffic.

And then Zhou Guanyu crashed, and at high speed. He dropped it at Turn 7 and went sideways into the barrier with considerable force. That brought out the red flags. “I’m OK,” he told the team, who face a race against time repairing his car in time for qualifying.

As the session resumed with five minutes on the clock, and a queue at the end of the pit lane, Bearman was one of nine drivers yet to put in a lap on the soft Pirellis.

The session ended with Verstappen quickest of all with a 1:28.412, putting him 0.196s ahead of Leclerc with Perez third. As for Bearman, he was 10th, 0.894s after a mistake at Turn 22 on his soft tyre run.


1 Max VERSTAPPEN 1:28.412
2 Charles LECLERC +0.196
3 Sergio PEREZ +0.494
4 George RUSSELL +0.552
5 Lando NORRIS +0.559
6 Fernando ALONSO +0.626
7 Lance STROLL +0.715
8 Oscar PIASTRI +0.801
9 Lewis HAMILTON +0.856
10 Oliver BEARMAN +0.894
11 Kevin MAGNUSSEN +1.073
12 Pierre GASLY +1.134
13 Yuki TSUNODA +1.160
14 Esteban OCON +1.163
15 Nico HULKENBERG +1.263
16 Daniel RICCIARDO +1.328
17 Alexander ALBON +1.396
18 Valtteri BOTTAS +1.671
19 Guanyu ZHOU +2.327
20 Logan SARGEANT no time

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