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A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY THAT CAME KNOCKInG.

"Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them." - William Arthur Ward.


The journey to Formula One is arduous. It requires dedication, sacrifice and a desire for excellence. Although Formula 2 is the ultimate training ground for young prospects, promotion to Formula One isn't guaranteed. Opportunities are scarce, so drivers must capitalize on every single one.

Oliver Bearman with Head of Ferrari Driver Academy, Jock Clear

No one knows how to seize an opportunity like Oliver Bearman. His success in the Italian and ADAC F4 championships caught the attention of the Italian racing giants. After being selected for the Ferrari Driver Academy and completing a test at Fiorano, he joined Prema Racing's Formula 2 team. In his debut season, he performed exceptionally, winning four races for the team. However, he had a rocky start to his sophomore season in Bahrain. Both Bearman and his teammate, Kimi Antonelli, struggled to score points in both races due to some technical difficulties faced by the team.


Arriving in Jeddah with a point to prove, Ollie and Prema were determined to make a comeback. During free practice, they set fast times, indicating that their struggles at Sakhir were a one-time occurrence. In qualifying, Bearman hit his stride, securing the top spot in remarkable fashion. Everything was set for the Brit to stamp his authority on Friday. However, there came an unexpected twist.

Ollie waiting for the start of the Saudi GP.           Ollie behind the wheel on the Jeddah Corniche circuit.


Just hours before the F2 sprint race, Bearman received a call from Ferrari team principal Frederic Vasseur informing him to gear up for the Scuderia as Carlos Sainz pulled out of the Grand Prix due to appendicitis. It was a big chance to prove his ability among the best.


A daunting task lied ahead, as he only had an hour’s time to learn the car. Still, he made heads turn as he tore through the fast Jeddah Corniche circuit, finding the limits of the SF-24. Using his intuition, he comfortably navigated through Q1, and in the second part of qualifying, missed out on the top 10 by 36 hundredths of a second, with the 7-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton narrowly escaping his clutches.


Despite the disappointment, he remained unfazed by narrowly missing the top-10 spot. Instead, he focused on Saturday's race. And he delivered on race day. Executing a clean start, he was locked in, making moves on Tsunoda and Magnussen. Despite his limited familiarity with the setup and Pirelli's new tires, he kept up with the drivers ahead of him, coming home to a very composed 7th-place finish.

Charles Leclerc (Left) & Ollie Bearman (Right)

It was an excellent debut, earning high praise from his peers. Lewis Hamilton went and personally congratulated him after the race. Vasseur praised his ability to step up at a moment's notice to deliver the best possible result. His teammate, Charles Leclerc, was impressed by his maturity and confident driving style. He stated that the Bearman would be a name to watch for in the future on the grid.


Ollie Bearman's super-sub display drew comparisons with a fellow Brit. When Lewis Hamilton was diagnosed with COVID-19, George Russell stepped up for Mercedes at Sakhir in 2020. He blew away everybody by quickly adjusting to the W11 and delivering a near-brilliant victory. Whilst pitstop issues and a heartbreaking puncture denied him that, it catalyzed Mercedes to offer him a full-time spot in 2022.

George Russel
 

(Left) Michael Schumacher & (Right) Sebastian Vettel


This performance also took inspiration from some of F1's legendary drivers' introduction to the sport.


Michael Schumacher came in as an emergency substitute for the incarcerated Bertrand Gachot. Driving for Jordan at Spa-Francorchamps, he stunned everybody by qualifying 7th on the grid. This performance earned him a permanent seat at Benetton, where he'd become a champion before rewriting the history books at Ferrari.


Sebastian Vettel had his first break in Formula 1 with BMW before he became a legend at Red Bull. Replacing an injured Robert Kubica, he qualified 7th and finished 8th at Indianapolis, showcasing his raw talent and speed. It prompted Red Bull to sign him for their sister team, Toro Rosso. His iconic victory at Monza was proof of his superstar potential. And it was his time at Red Bull where he forged his legacy as a 4-time World Champion.


Both drivers were handed a golden opportunity, grabbed it and went on to redefine the racing landscape. Bearman hopes to follow in their footsteps and be a household name in the motorsport world.


Provided with a golden opportunity, the man from Chelmsford produced something special. His name is now on everyone's radar. And he looks to use his momentum to deliver another top performance in Australia.

 



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