‘Tactical’ Carlos Sainz move questioned as intriguing Oliver Bearman theory emerges

Jamie Woodhouse
Ferrari's Carlos Sainz in the Formula 1 paddock.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz.

Carlos Sainz made a “tactical” return to the Ferrari garage in Saudi Arabia to snuff out any thoughts of a more permanent Oliver Bearman promotion, suggests ex-F1 driver Robert Doornbos.

Bearman was expecting to contest the second round of the 2024 Formula 2 campaign with Prema in Saudi Arabia, setting himself up perfectly by claiming pole for the feature race, but then came the call from Ferrari to make his Formula 1 debut.

Carlos Sainz Ferrari garage appearance ‘tactical’?

Sainz had contested the opening day of track action at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, but ahead of the final practice session, it was confirmed that he required surgery for appendicitis, meaning Bearman was in for the rest of the race weekend.

Bearman certainly took full advantage of his opportunity, narrowly missing out on a top-10 grid slot before an impressive drive to P7 on race day. Whether he will get another Ferrari outing at the Australian Grand Prix remains undecided with Sainz’s status yet to be confirmed, even if Ziggo Sport F1 analyst Jack Plooij thinks “Sainz won’t make it”.

Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur described Sainz’s recovery timeline as “amazing” so far in Saudi Arabia, the Spaniard even back in the Ferrari garage on race day where Bearman said he was guiding him through the race.

However, did Sainz have an additional motive behind his presence beyond simply just wanting to be there to lend support?

Considering that Sainz will be leaving Ferrari at the end of F1 2024, his place in the team to be taken by seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton, Doornbos suggested Sainz showing up at Ferrari for Saudi Arabia race day was “tactical”, just in case the team were getting ideas about turning to Bearman as the ideal stop-gap.

“I thought that was very strange,” said Doornbos in regards to Sainz showing up on Grand Prix Saturday in Saudi Arabia. “I think it was political – to say ‘don’t write me off yet, I’m still here’.”

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Plooij then ran with that idea that Ferrari could look to make Bearman a permanent fixture in their line-up for the remainder of the season.

“Everyone is saying that he [Sainz] will no longer have access to this or that, so why not? And if Bearman wins in Australia, what then?”

That of course is a major if, because aside from the fact that Red Bull has dominated F1 2024 so far with back-to-back 1-2 finishes, it must be reiterated that no call has yet been taken on Sainz’s ability to compete at the Australian Grand Prix.

And Bearman has taken a compassionate view on the matter, hoping Sainz is fit to race at Albert Park.

“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.”

Should Ferrari not require Bearman’s services, then he will be on F2 duties in Melbourne, as he looks to claw his way back into title contention.

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