Haas have announced ahead of this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix that Formula 2 driver Oliver Bearman will drive for the team in two Free Practice 1 sessions, in Mexico and Abu Dhabi.
The American side are using the F2 driver to comply with the regulation that every team must field a driver yet to start two F1 races in two FP1 sessions every season, something which gives young talent essential experience in the pinnacle of single-seater motorsport.
As well as being an F2 driver, Bearman is also part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, something that the likes of Charles Leclerc was part of when he was racing in junior categories.
Mercedes reserve driver Mick Schumacher was also part of Ferrari’s programme, before he left at the end of 2022 to join the Silver Arrows.
The British driver certainly deserves his shot in Haas’ VF-23, as he’s enjoyed a brilliant maiden F2 campaign.
Bearman currently finds himself sixth in the F2 Drivers’ Championship with just the final round in Abu Dhabi remaining, whilst he’s also a race winner this season.
The Prema driver has won four races in total in 2023, with his highlight having been winning both the sprint race and the feature race in Azerbaijan.
The 18-year-old being given Haas’ two young driver FP1 slots is a clear indicator of just how much belief Ferrari have in the young driver, who is one to watch out for in the future.
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner is “very happy” to be using Bearman for the two FP1 sessions in Mexico and Abu Dhabi, with him noting how “stellar” the driver has done in his first F2 campaign.
“We’re very happy to offer Oliver these outings in Mexico and Abu Dhabi,” said Steiner.
“He’s had a stellar rookie season in Formula 2, four wins is testament to that, and as part of the Ferrari Driver Academy – we know his background preparation coming into these weekends will be first-rate. We look forward to welcoming Oliver into the team and have him drive the VF-23.”
With so many contracts in F1 expiring at the end of 2024, Bearman might be having his eyes on one of the Haas seats for 2025, something which could certainly be on the cards.