Fred Vasseur Speaks Out On Oliver Bearman’s F1 Chances

Ferrari's team principal Fred Vasseur suggests Olivier Bearman's immediate future does not include a race seat with the team.

Mark Phelan

By Mark Phelan
Published on March 13, 2024

Frederic Vasseur at Jeddah for the 2024 F1 Saudi Arabian GP
Frederic Vasseur at Jeddah for the 2024 F1 Saudi Arabian GP

Vasseur, the man at the head of F1’s most historic team, Ferrari, suggests that 18-year-old Olivier Bearman should focus on his Formula 2 commitments and his upcoming first practice runs with Haas, rather than eyeing a Ferrari seat just yet. Guidance that follows Bearman’s commendable substitute performance for Carlos Sainz in Saudi Arabia.

With no openings at Ferrari in the near future due to Charles Leclerc’s recent contract renewal and Lewis Hamilton’s impending switch from Mercedes in 2025, Bearman’s path to the Maranello squad seems on pause for now. Although Bearman might find opportunities with Haas, where he is set to participate in FP1 sessions, Haas team leader Ayao Komatsu has indicated he’s happy with his current lineup of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg.

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When probed about the likelihood of Bearman mirroring Hamilton’s journey to Ferrari as a British driver, Vasseur clarified that entertaining such prospects is premature, especially considering Hamilton’s contract with the team hasn’t even started yet.

“Don’t start to speak about after Lewis Hamilton, Lewis is still not in the team!” he said when asked about Bearman’s chances after his impressive drive to seventh in Jeddah.

“But it’s a good signal for Ollie for sure, it’s an important milestone. In Melbourne and Imola he will be back on the F2 project, and the most important challenge for Ollie will be this one.

“He will start soon the FP1 sessions with Haas, and this will be important also for us to give him experience and mileage in the car. But for sure with this one [Jeddah] he has the result in the pocket already.”

Bearman is set to take part in a series of FP1 sessions with Haas, scheduled for Imola, Barcelona, Silverstone, Hungary, Mexico City, and Abu Dhabi.

Vasseur emphasised the importance of Bearman’s continued learning and his need to demonstrate progress.

“You have to consider Jeddah is a step, not the final target,” he said. “He did well this weekend, but he will have other challenges in front of him in the future with F2.

“He will do a couple of FP1s with us and Haas during the season and all of you, including me, in six months’ time we won’t speak any more about Jeddah, we’ll speak about Mexico, Brazil [sic], and if he’s doing well or not.

“And every single day will be a new challenge. But for sure, if he’s keeping the same approach as today, it will go well.”

Bearman secured the opportunity to drive in Jeddah as he was the appointed Ferrari reserve driver for that weekend, alongside his F2 race seat. This arrangement was, and is also planned for the 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

Ferrari opted not to have Antonio Giovinazzi or Robert Shwartzman on standby in Jeddah. Given the packed 24-race F1 schedule, alongside their commitments to the WEC and obligations for simulator work at Maranello, it was logical to spread the reserve duties. This strategy leverages weekends when Bearman is already on-site for F2 events.

“I took the decision in the winter because I found it a bit stupid last year to ask Antonio to do 22 or 24 races when he was doing in parallel the LMH programme.

“The LMH is quite important for us – it’s a huge challenge – and I don’t want to ask Antonio or Shwartzman to travel with us and to do F1 the week after Qatar, and a race in between.

“It’s why we decided when Ollie’s with us, he will be the reserve, and when he’s not with us, he’ll be in the sim.”

Giovinazzi is set to return to F1 in ’24, making his debut as Ferrar’s reserve driver at the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix.

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About The Author

Senior Editor

Mark Phelan
Mark Phelan

Mark is a staff writer specialising in the history of Formula 1 races. Mark researches most of our historic content from teams to drivers and races. He has followed Formula 1 since 1988, and admits to having a soft spot for British drivers from James Hunt and Nigel Mansell to Lando Norris. He loves a great F1 podcast and has read pretty much every drivers biography.

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