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Who is Sainz's F1 Saudi Arabian GP replacement Oliver Bearman?

With Carlos Sainz ruled out by appendicitis, 18-year-old British youngster Oliver Bearman is getting the chance of a lifetime to make his Formula 1 debut for Ferrari in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Oliver Bearman, Ferrari

Photo by: Ferrari

Bearman's even younger Prema team-mate Andrea Kimi Antonelli has been all the rage recently as Mercedes ponders its driver options for 2025, but Bearman is equally seen as a superstar of the future.

Following success in karting and Formula 4, the Chelmsford native was invited to the Ferrari Driver Academy Scouting World Finals in 2021, where he impressed Ferrari enough to earn a spot in its academy. Bearman is also a two-time Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award finalist.

That did wonders for his fledgling career, as Ferrari placed him in F3 in 2022 with superteam Prema, taking a solitary win on his way to third in the championship.

Ferrari and Prema moved him up to F2 the following year, with Bearman finishing sixth after taking four wins, including an acclaimed feature and sprint race double in Baku.

More: How Bearman’s Baku double stacks up in historic junior single-seater feats

To underline Ferrari's belief in Bearman as a star of the future, the Scuderia also started drip feeding him with opportunities to drive an F1 car.

An initial Fiorano test with its 2021 car gave Bearman the required mileage for an FP1 superlicence, which he then put to good use at Ferrari customer team Haas.

His official grand prix weekend debut followed in Mexico, where he impressed Ferrari and Haas alike with his composed performance that belied his tender age, three tenths off regular driver Nico Hulkenberg.

Ollie Bearman, Haas VF-23

Ollie Bearman, Haas VF-23

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

At the time Ayao Komatsu, who has since replaced Guenther Steiner as team principal, said Bearman's debut was a good as it gets.

"I don't think we can fault him," Komatsu said. "He's done really well, all the way from the very initial preparation he's been very professional, very, very easy to deal with.

"And then every single process I've nothing to complain. And today with a calmness he understood the objectives of every single run. He didn't put a foot wrong, really.

"Very, very good job. Very impressed. It's been a really smooth process, it's been a real pleasure to work with him and his management team."

More outings followed at Abu Dhabi, both in first practice and in the young driver test, and earlier this year he sampled the 2022 car at a private test in Barcelona.

Off the track the Brit also impressed the media with his considered answers and level-headed nature, while not holding back on voicing his ambition either.

"I know I'd be ready to go, I know I have what it takes," Bearman told the media after his Abu Dhabi FP1 session.

Oliver Bearman, Reserve Driver, Ferrari and Haas F1 Team, chats with Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team

Oliver Bearman, Reserve Driver, Ferrari and Haas F1 Team, chats with Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

"Of course, preparation will be important. First of all, I have to do a good enough job to make that step one. But I have no doubt that if I get a call-up, I'm ready to go."

That chance has now come much sooner than anticipated due to Sainz requiring surgery for appendicitis, throwing up a few curious milestones.

Bearman will become the first driver to make his F1 debut in a Ferrari since Arturo Merzario, 52 ago.

He also beats Lewis Hamilton to being the first Brit in a Ferrari since Eddie Irvine in 1999, leading to the unlikely fact that 39-year-old Hamilton is set to walk in 18-year-old Bearman's shoes when he makes the switch next year.

Bearman's surprise Jeddah debut comes at the start of his second F2 campaign, in which he has been pitched at Prema against Mercedes protege Antonelli, both seen as the most likely prospects to move up to F1.

Following a tough weekend for both Prema cars in Bahrain, Bearman drew first blood by qualifying on pole in Jeddah.

But his battle with Antonelli will have to wait until the Melbourne round in two weeks, while Bearman gets a golden opportunity to underline his F1 credentials in one of the best seats on the grid.

Oliver Bearman, Haas F1 Team

Oliver Bearman, Haas F1 Team

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

With just a single practice session the pressure won't be as high as it could have been, but his performance will be an important data point as Ferrari and Haas consider him for a potential 2025 seat at the customer team.

If Bearman truly is ready to go, then this is his first chance to prove it.

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