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Who is Oliver Bearman? Brit 6/1 for top six finish on F1 debut at Saudi Arabian GP

Oliver Bearman will make his Formula 1 debut for Ferrari at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after Carlos Sainz was diagnosed with appendicitis.

It was confirmed ahead of FP3 that Sainz will take no further part in the race weekend, with the Spaniard set to undergo surgery.

Ferrari announced that Bearman will deputise in Sainz's absence, with the 18-year-old becoming the first British driver since Eddie Irvine in 1999 to represent the prancing horse in F1.

Bearman stepped up with immense maturity and skill to claim 11th on the grid in his first qualifying session, narrowly missing out on Q3 by 0.036 seconds to seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton.

Bearman, who currently competes with PREMA Racing in Formula Two, is 33/1 to finish on the podium on Saturday. A top six finish on debut is 6/1, while the Brit is priced at 4/5 to finish in the points.

The Brit has impressed many en route to this moment and we've profiled Bearman ahead of his first race.

Formula 1

Joining the Ferrari Driver Academy

After making his single-seater debut in the ADAC Formula 4 Championships and competing in the Italian F4 in 2020, Bearman made the switch to Van Amersfoort Racing for the 2021 campaign and impressively won both titles, winning a total of 17 races across both formats.

His consistency and speed certainly didn't go unnoticed and after being awarded the Henry Surtees Award for most outstanding performance by a BRDC rising star, Bearman was inducted into Ferrari's Driver Academy.

Moving into F3 with PREMA in 2022, the Italian team that housed Charles Leclerc in his F2 season, Bearman thought he'd secured victory on debut in Bahrain, only for a five-second penalty to demote him to second.

Results tailed off but Bearman recaptured his best form during the middle of the season, recording three consecutive third-place finishes before taking his first win in the sprint race at Spa-Francorchamps.

The Brit still had a slim shot of the title in the ultimate round of the season at Monza but was forced to settle for third in the standings, which was still enough to secure him a seat in F2 for the following year.

Formula 3 into Formula 2

Remaining with PREMA where he would partner Mercedes junior driver Frederik Vesti, Bearman endured a difficult start to his F2 career, suffering mechanical performance issues and costly race incidents.

It wouldn't take long for him to find his feet and Bearman was on the top step of the podium in Baku, securing victories in both the Sprint and Feature Race victories. He would seal further wins in Barcelona and Monza, with the Chelmsford-born racer finishing 6th in the standings.

Starting the 2024 season with high expectations, Bearman could only finish as high as 15th in the opening feature race in Bahrain but bounced back in Jeddah, claiming pole position for the feature race.

24 hours later and he was sat in Sainz's Ferrari competing in a F1 qualifying session...

Chance to prove his talent

Ferrari were evidently happy with Bearman's progress in his first F2 season and awarded him with the opportunity to get behind the wheel of an F1 car when he tested a 2021-spec Ferrari at Fiorano in Italy.

The Ferrari protege was then handed another chance to jump in the seat of an F1 car in October at the Mexican Grand Prix, where he participated in both FP1 and FP2 for Haas.

Bearman impressed the American team with his flawless performances in both sessions, with Haas' new team principal Ayao Komatsu saying: “I don’t think you can fault him. He’s done really well. All the way from the initial preparation, he’s been very professional. I have nothing to complain [about]."

After featuring in the post-season test in Abu Dhabi, Bearman was named as reserve driver for both Ferrari and Haas, a responsibility he would be required to balance with his F2 commitments.

Being reserve driver ultimately meant he was the first port of call should either one of Sainz or Leclerc be unavailable, and now Bearman has a chance to exhibit his talent in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

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