09 March 2024

A star is born – Damon Hill hails Ollie Bearman after impressive debut drive

09 March 2024

Damon Hill said a star was born after rookie teenager Ollie Bearman beat Lewis Hamilton on his shock Ferrari debut at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Bearman drove into the record books by becoming the youngest British driver to race in Formula One and he delivered by finishing seventh, ahead of both Lando Norris, eighth and Hamilton, ninth.

Seven-time world champion Hamilton waited by Bearman’s Ferrari before embracing the 18-year-old as he climbed out of his scarlet machine at the end of the race.

“A star is born now,” Hill, the 1996 world champion, said on X. “To jump in at such short notice, on a track as intimidating as Jeddah, in a Ferrari of all things, and hold up under immense pressure from Lando and Lewis and keep it together. Wow.”

Max Verstappen raced to his second win in as many weeks, but Bearman, an eleventh hour stand-in for Carlos Sainz, ruled out with appendicitis, stole the show.

With just one hour of practice and Friday’s qualifying session under his belt, Bearman lined up in 11th and made up four positions in a fine drive which saw him voted as driver of the day by the sport’s fans.

“Lewis was basically pulling me out of the car at the end because I was struggling,” said Bearman. “It was really physical so you are pretty much doing 50 qualifying laps.

Asked about his plans for the evening, he replied: “I have some debriefs to do with the team, so I am going to have a nice big dinner tonight and a big dessert.

“I think I have earned that. The debrief is scheduled to finish at midnight so I will have some junk food, maybe a burger.”

Sergio Perez completed a one-two finish for F1’s crisis-hit Red Bull team, with Charles Leclerc third for Ferrari.

“He has done an incredible job,” said Leclerc of Bearman, 18 years, 10 months and one day.

“He was straight on the pace. Seventh in your first race in a new Formula One car is hugely impressive.

“I am sure he is extremely proud and everyone has noticed how talented he is. It is only a matter of time before he is in Formula One.”

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