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Vasseur: Bearman's mistake-free F1 Saudi Arabian GP so good it's "unrealistic"

Ferrari Formula 1 boss Fred Vasseur says reserve driver Oliver Bearman matched “unrealistic” expectations with a faultless maiden grand prix weekend in Saudi Arabia, despite missing two practice sessions.

Oliver Bearman, Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Bearman was called upon just a few hours before FP3 on Friday after it became clear that regular driver Carlos Sainz had appendicitis.

Having qualified 11th, the young Brit had a problem-free maiden grand prix, and he didn’t put a foot wrong despite Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton threatening him on soft tyres in the closing laps. He eventually finished seventh, just behind George Russell.

Vasseur said that while being on the pace so quickly was an achievement, the fact that Bearman avoided mistakes at a tricky venue such as the Jeddah street circuit was particularly impressive.

“I think in this situation – and we've had a couple of times good young drivers into the car, not only at Ferrari, but on the grid – I would say the pace is, I don't want to say easy to have, but it's something they can achieve,” he said.

“The fact he did a short weekend without FP1, FP2 without any mistake, for me it's unrealistic.

“Honestly, I was completely impressed by this in Jeddah, between the walls, skipping FP1, FP2, directly almost in quali."

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Frederic Vasseur, Team Principal and General Manager, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Erik Junius

Asked by Autosport about Bearman's debut overall, Vasseur praised a "mega weekend" by the rookie.

"We called him, it was something like 2pm on the Friday, to jump into the car for FP3," the Frenchman recalled. "But it's not Barcelona, we're in Jeddah, the challenge was mega.

"He had a very good FP3, he was doing it step by step. In quali, he missed Q3 by a couple of hundredths, and in the race today I was a bit nervous before the race because you have so many things to manage in F1 with the starting procedure, the pitstop, the steering wheel. It was not an easy one."

Vasseur praised Bearman’s tenacity when under pressure in the final laps, admitting that he had urged him on, a sign of the confidence that he has in the youngster.

"At the end he managed it very well," he said. "If you have a look, he was even able to push on the last lap to keep Lando and Lewis behind him, and I was even surprised myself to ask him to push a little bit more from the pitwall and to not be conservative, because he was not doing a mistake at this stage."

Oliver Bearman, Ferrari SF-24, Zhou Guanyu, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber C44

Oliver Bearman, Ferrari SF-24, Zhou Guanyu, Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber C44

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Vasseur also noted the way that Bearman was able to take everything in his stride: "He was not 'distant', because it's not the right word, but he was very calm in the approach from the beginning.

"I think this was a huge asset for the weekend, because you have the pressure, you know that you all remind him of all the points of the story, that he's the youngest driver at Ferrari, and for him it was a huge pressure.

"But, at the end of the day, I think he was able to skip it from his mind, and to be focused on the real point.

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"I think he put a clear target. My understanding of this is he didn't pay too much attention to details, he was focused on the big topic and, in the end, it went very well.

"I was scared he could do a mistake on the pitstop or in the starting procedure and so on, as we saw a couple of times in the past with rookies, and he managed it very well."

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