Two weekends ago at the Baku circuit, for the first time in the history of Formula 2, a driver finished in the lead in all sessions over the weekend, free practice, qualifying, sprint race and GP. This driver is Oliver Bearman of the Prema team, an Englishman born in 2005. Bearman is a member of the ‘Ferrari Driver Academy’, so after this result, the question has arisen if he can be the new Ferrari driver in Formula 1 this year. next time?
Bearman started karting at the age of eight. After doing well in the national and European karting championships, he entered Formula 4 in the Italian and German championships at the age of fifteen. The following year (2021), he won both.
As a result of these performances, in 2022 he joined the ‘Ferrari Driver Academy’, and at the same time entered Formula 3 with the Prema team, after competing in the Formula Region with the participating team Mumbai Falcons. He finished his rookie season in third place, thus moving up to Formula 2 this year.
In F2 he continues with Prema, and in the first three rounds of the current season, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Australia, he had several problems, not because he was still getting used to the category, but in Baku, the story was different.
The weekend of April 30 was a good one for the young rider. He took the lead from Friday’s practice onwards, then proved it in qualifying despite having a damaged car. In the race on Saturday he was lucky as no less than six cars went into the wall on the restart after the safety car, with Bearman emerging from the disaster. The British still passed his colleague Frederik Vesti, and won.
On Sunday he started from pole, and with a good fight with Theo Pourchaire, Bearman dominated the race, taking his first victory in Formula 2. It was a historic weekend title, which also placed him fourth overall. and gave Prema the first place in the position of builders.
Bearman has turned eighteen years old and has begun to show some very attractive features. That is good news for Ferrari, who have talent in their midst.
In addition to Bearman, the ‘Ferrari Driver Academy’ also has names such as Robert Schwartzman, the current reserve driver of Ferrari, Dino Beganovic and Arthur Leclerc, brother of Charles. However, since the FDA has been there, that is, since 2009, only one driver from the program went to compete for Ferrari: Charles Leclerc. Others managed to enter Formula 1, such as Sergio Perez, Guanyu Zhou and Mick Schumacher, but went to other teams.
The question arose, if Ferrari will have the patience to accompany Bearman in his development and use him well, avoid rejecting him early or keeping him for a long time in small groups, thus risking deciding to leave. The Briton is still young, but he has already shown that he can compete in Formula 2, against more experienced drivers than him.
But who could make room for him at Ferrari? In recent weeks there have been rumors of a possible departure for Charles Leclerc, who could go to Mercedes, and Carlos Sainz is also thought to be moving to Audi-Sauber. Both drivers’ contracts expire at the end of 2024.
The solution for Ferrari, also not to leave talent ‘parked’ in the youth categories, would be to take advantage of existing partnerships with other teams, such as Haas and Alfa Romeo-Sauber (but Sauber has already signed a partnership with Audi for 2026. ) This has already been done by Charles Leclerc, who started his career at Sauber before moving to the Scuderia.
Now it remains to be seen if, firstly, Bearman will continue to show the good performance he had in Baku, and secondly, if no other F1 team can start watching the young driver more closely.