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Bearman's Impressive Saudi Debut

Steiner Unsurprised by Bearman’s Saudi GP Feat

16/03/2024

Günther Steiner reflects on Ollie Bearman’s remarkable debut in Jeddah, tracing his confidence back to Bearman’s prior performances.

Former Haas F1 team principal Günther Steiner was not taken aback to witness Ollie Bearman’s standout performance at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, attributing his lack of surprise to the young Briton’s impressive stint in Mexico the previous year.

“Ollie Bearman excelled when he filled in for Carlos Sainz at Ferrari in Jeddah, replicating his commendable performance when he drove for Haas during FP1 sessions in Mexico and Abu Dhabi last year,” Steiner penned in his column for the F1 website.

“Stepping in for Carlos at the eleventh hour was a hefty burden for him. Let’s not forget his pole position in the F2 race – he was already buoyed by that – and learning he would replace Carlos the next day must have been challenging to navigate. Yet, it was seamless to outsiders.”

“He remained composed throughout the race. Jeddah is among the calendar’s most demanding tracks. A mistake there usually comes at a high cost. He did well, and it’s clear teams will be keeping an eye on him.”

“He has a bright future in this sport.”

Bearman quickly eased Steiner’s concerns when he took to the Haas: “When he drove for us in FP1, I was never apprehensive about him making an unexpected move. He was always in control.”

“He did the same in Saudi Arabia. Was I surprised by his performance? No. I had faith in his abilities. I believe he has a bright future in this sport. He just needs to stay calm, and I have no doubt he will succeed.”

“Last year, Fred Vasseur called me, asking if we could include Ollie in two free practice sessions, fulfilling each team’s obligation to field a young driver in at least two sessions, because he believed Ollie could deliver.”

“We agreed without much debate. Arguing with Fred over young drivers would be challenging given his extensive experience and the homework he surely did before approaching us to put him in our car.”

“He can position himself well.”

Steiner shared that his pre-FP1 talk with Bearman last year, although brief, convinced him of the driver’s potential: “Before Ollie got behind the wheel, we talked, but only for about 10 minutes. I basically advised him not to overdo it.”

“I never feared he’d do something foolish in an attempt to impress. He’s savvy. From our conversation, it quickly became apparent he knew what was required. Clearly, he wasn’t the type to agree outwardly while thinking differently.”

“He understood that he just needed to perform well, get familiar with the car, and bring it home safely – that was it. He realized these FP1 sessions wouldn’t define his career. He had a broader plan in mind. I was very impressed by his composure. He’s giving himself time, not rushing.”

“This likely stems from his background and how his family raised him. They’ve done a remarkable job. At 18, he’s got time on his side. Being part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, he knows good performance could significantly boost his career prospects.”

Bearman’s Future Bright

“Of course, success isn’t guaranteed. There’s always a risk. But his conduct during qualifying and the race in Jeddah, with just an hour of practice, suggests that risk is minimized.”

“For potential employers, his performance has alleviated many concerns about his capabilities. He’s in a strong position because, at year-end, many driver contracts are up for renewal, so he can position himself well. He may not have carte blanche, but there are likely multiple opportunities for him.”

“He’s under contract with Ferrari, though I’m unsure of the duration. If you’re interested in him, you’d speak to Ferrari, see their intentions, and explore possible arrangements. You’d also assess your team’s current lineup. Do you want him, or are you content with what you have?”

“I anticipate many teams will proactively express interest in him after his last weekend’s showing. If I see potential, others will too, so there’s a good chance he’ll secure a seat next year.”

Bearman’s Impressive Saudi Debut. Bearman’s Impressive Saudi Debut

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