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Oliver Bearman impresses Ferrari boss Fred Vasseur on debut F1 outing

Oliver Bearman took the Formula 1 world by storm at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, stepping into the driver's seat for Ferrari with just hours' notice.

The young 18-year-old prodigy, currently in his second season of Formula 2, replaced the unwell Carlos Sainz and not only qualified in an impressive 11th position but also secured a commendable 7th place in the race, bagging six crucial points.

Ferrari team boss Fred Vasseur lauded Bearman for his calm demeanour despite the unexpected call-up, emphasizing the immense pressure associated with being the youngest driver for the iconic team. Vasseur stated, "He was very calm in his approach from the beginning. He wasn't focused on details but on the big topic, and in the end, it went well."

Navigating the challenging Jeddah Corniche Circuit, with its high-speed, 27-corner layout, Bearman's performance drew admiration from Vasseur. Despite skipping Friday's Free Practice sessions, Bearman flawlessly tackled the circuit, leaving Vasseur thoroughly impressed: "The fact he had a short weekend without any mistakes, honestly I was completely impressed by this in Jeddah, between the walls, skipping FP1 and FP2, directly almost into quali."

Vasseur, speaking on Sky Sports F1, expressed realistic expectations about potential mistakes, given Bearman's lack of experience in certain aspects of an F1 Grand Prix. However, the young driver exceeded expectations, showcasing resilience and focus throughout the weekend.

Bearman's ability to manage his tires and handle race pressures, coupled with setting his fastest lap on the final tour, earned further acclaim. Vasseur remarked, "On the management, he was very solid, very robust, he didn't do a mistake. [He gave] good feedback, very calm on the radio, and also [was] helping everybody to stay calm and thanks to him."

Acknowledging Bearman's promising debut, Vasseur emphasized the importance of maintaining focus on the continuing challenges ahead, including additional FP1 appearances in 2024. The team boss highlighted Bearman's commitment to mounting a championship fight in F2, acknowledging the significant setback this weekend caused him.

Looking ahead to the Australian Grand Prix, set to unfold on the weekend of 22-24 March, Bearman, if Sainz is not be able to race following appendicitis surgery, faces a unique challenge on the 5.278km Albert Park semi-street circuit. Vasseur, however, remains cautious about immediate prospects, stating, "The result of today will be behind us in a couple of weeks, and he will have to be focused on the F2 because he has a huge challenge in front of him."

In the ever-evolving world of Formula 1, Oliver Bearman's stellar debut has undoubtedly left fans and experts eagerly anticipating his future endeavours on the track.

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