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Verstappen hopes "impressive" F1 debutant Bearman doesn't fixate on missing Q3

Max Verstappen says he hopes Formula 1 debutant Oliver Bearman does not focus on missing Jeddah Q3 for Ferrari given his impressive showing with little preparation.

Oliver Bearman, Scuderia Ferrari

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Bearman made his full F1 debut in place of the appendicitis-addled Carlos Sainz at the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix on Friday, jumping into an SF-24 with only FP3 to prepare ahead of qualifying on the high-speed, walled layout in the Red Sea coastal city.

He finished 11th in qualifying – knocked out in Q2 by just 0.036-seconds behind Lewis Hamilton.

“It's super hard to jump in on a track like this,” Verstappen said of Bearman’s performance on Friday.

“And I think what he has done has been very impressive.

“I was watching his first few laps in FP3, because that's where you can judge if someone is a bit comfortable or not in the car.

“And by lap two, lap three, I was like: 'Okay, that's a strong start'. I like to see that.

“To be P11, I think only at the time six tenths off pole [off Verstappen’s Q2 time], that is more than I think you could have asked from him.

“He's done an incredible job. And I hope he also enjoyed it a little bit out there because it's quite stressful when you come into a new team, basically a new car, and without any [F1] experience on this track.

Oliver Bearman, Ferrari SF-24

Oliver Bearman, Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

“So, yeah, hopefully he's happy with himself. Also, not that he says, 'I didn't make it to Q3' or whatever, because I think everyone within the paddock has seen that he did a great job.”

Bearman's new team-mate Charles Leclerc said he barely had time to speak to his new squad-mate ahead of FP3, as Bearman “had so much to understand in order for him to be ready” with Ferrari’s engineers.

“It's definitely one of the most difficult tracks of the calendar for sure, being a street track and so fast as well,” Leclerc added. “But he handled it perfectly.

“We didn't have much time to speak. The only thing I've told him when he came this morning, I was like, 'are you excited?' And he was like: 'I cannot wait'.

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“I expected this answer, and it was good to see the excitement for him for his first race in Ferrari and again he's done a great job.”

Sergio Perez, speaking alongside Verstappen and Leclerc in the post-qualifying press conference in Jeddah after Verstappen had secured a second pole in succession to kick off the 2024 season, said: “It was very impressive… [because] it's a place where you don't want to get the call to do your debut”.

“Because it's one of the most challenging places, the one that you have to take the most risk, the one that you have to be the most confident with the car, with the balance,” Perez continued.

“So, yeah, big respect for what he has achieved. I think he has done a really strong job. It just shows how well prepared he is for the opportunity. So well done to him.”

Oliver Bearman, Scuderia Ferrari, in the garage

Oliver Bearman, Scuderia Ferrari, in the garage

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Leclerc also claimed Bearman’s efforts showed Ferrari has a strong simulator programme for preparing young drivers – the pair a former and current member of the Scuderia’s Driver Academy.

“There’s been quite a lot of work done on the simulator and I’m really happy to see that straightaway he found the rhythm because that also means that the guys at the simulator are doing a great job and that all the preparation that he has done back at the factory is for something,” said Leclerc.

“He’s been prepared in the best way possible in order to be ready, which doesn’t take anything off his talent, that has been again extremely impressive what he has shown.”

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