F1, Sainz with appendicitis: an 18-year-old will ride a Ferrari in Saudi Arabia. That's who Oliver Bearman is


By John

An 18 year old driving a Ferrari: it's not news of a 'social' challenge but Oliver Bearman's dream come true, the English driver who will turn 19 on May 8th and who will make his debut in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in place of the unavailable Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard, who has been feverish since Wednesday, has been diagnosed with appendicitis which will require surgery and is therefore out of action for the weekend. And so at 18 years and 10 months Bearman becomes the youngest driver to debut in a Ferrari Formula 1, the third ever behind Max Verstappen and Lance Stroll.
The Cavallino reserve will find himself driving a single-seater that he has never tested (the regulations prohibit it) to challenge the best drivers in the world, moreover after having missed the free practice sessions on Thursday. So far Bearman has only done one test session last season for the Haas team in Mexico City and in the preliminaries of the Abu Dhabi GP which concluded the world championship. In the meantime he was competing in Formula 2 with Prema, a team from Vicenza which is a sort of nursery for the Cavallino.
«For me the best advice is to keep things simple», the young talent from Essex said of himself, «I tend to overcomplicate things, especially in racing and I can get into a negative spiral. So I better focus on the most important things, instead of thinking too much about the little things.”
Originally from Chelmsford, in the south-east of England, Bearman started with karting and forged ahead, arriving in Formula 4 in 2020 and triumphing in the Italian and German F4 championships the following year. From the Ferrari Driver Academy, where he arrived in November 2021, he was diverted to Prema in Formula 2 but now the time has come for the big leap