08 March 2024

British teen Ollie Bearman 10th in final practice ahead of F1 debut for Ferrari

08 March 2024

British teenager Ollie Bearman finished 10th in final practice after being thrown in at the deep end as a last-minute replacement for Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Bearman, 18, will become Britain’s youngest driver to take part in a Formula One race at Saturday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen topped the time sheets in Jeddah in the concluding running ahead of qualifying, with Charles Leclerc second and Sergio Perez third.

George Russell and Lewis Hamilton finished fourth and ninth respectively for Mercedes.

All eyes were on the Ferrari garage, with Bearman to become only the 12th British driver to race for Ferrari – and the first Englishman since Nigel Mansell in 1990 – following Sainz’s withdrawal with appendicitis.

The Spaniard, who is making way at Ferrari for Hamilton next year, has now undergone surgery. A Ferrari statement said: “Carlos is out of surgery. Everything went well and he is now resting at the hospital.

“We send him our full support for a quick recovery.”

Bearman, from Chelmsford, Essex, who doesn’t turn 19 until May, will usurp McLaren’s Lando Norris as the youngest driver from Britain.

And in his first outing for the famous Ferrari team, he finished a respectable 10th, seven tenths adrift of Leclerc in the other scarlet machine.

Verstappen won last Saturday’s season-opening round in Bahrain and – despite the ongoing controversy at Red Bull – he looks set to extend his winning streak.

He finished two tenths ahead of Leclerc and half-a-second clear of Perez.

Hamilton, who complained about the bouncing in his Mercedes, was almost nine tenths off the pace and only marginally ahead of countryman Bearman.

The session was suspended for 13 minutes after Stake’s Zhou Guangzhou crashed out at high speed through Turn 8.

The Chinese driver was unharmed in the accident, but his team will face a race against time to repair his car for qualifying, which gets under way at 8pm local time (5pm GMT).

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