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Oliver Bearman

Why Haas should look beyond Bearman to replace Hulkenberg

Haas has a decision on its hands as it seeks a replacement for Nico Hulkenberg. Oliver Bearman is believed to be the favourite - but he should not be the sole option.

Bearman
Analysis
To news overview © XPBimages

Nico Hulkenberg’s announcement on Friday that he will join Stake for the 2025 Formula 1 campaign ahead of its transition to Audi has opened up another vacancy on the grid.

The German driver leaves behind a seat that may not be the most lucrative available due to Haas’ position in the pecking order, but one that will still be highly sought after.

Oliver Bearman is currently the strong favourite for the drive after impressing on his debut for Ferrari in Saudi Arabia earlier this year.

The Briton will also be further integrated into the team this season through six FP1 sessions, firmly placing him in pole position for the drive - but he should not be the only consideration for Haas.

The Stake alternative

With so many drivers out of contract at the end of this year, there is a crop of experienced campaigners who must be evaluated alongside the prospect of new blood.

It is easy to forget Valtteri Bottas is the fourth-most winningest driver on the current grid after being confined to the rear of it for just over two seasons.

The Finn would offer another experienced hand alongside Kevin Magnussen, who is also not guaranteed but whose prospects have been boosted if Haas is interested in continuity.

The duo will boast well over 400 grands prix combined when next year’s campaign gets underway.

Bottas recently voiced a reminder of his career achievements (10 race wins, 20 pole positions and 67 podiums) when asked about his position in the driver market as he seeks to remain on the grid beyond the current season.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Either Bottas or team-mate Zhou Guanyu will be out of the Stake team next year, so while Bottas can hand in an impressive racing resumé, what can Zhou offer?

Zhou has largely been out-performed by Bottas during their time together, but he has been far from embarrassed by the multi-time grand prix winner.

The Chinese driver has shown glimpses of speed, most notably with his impressive top-five qualifying result at the Hungarian Grand Prix last year.

Additionally, the financial backing he provides as well as his popularity in China could be of huge benefit to Haas and is not something that should so easily be overlooked.

Anyone else?

Amid the turmoil that is currently happening at the Alpine squad, could either Esteban Ocon or Pierre Gasly be poached?

It cannot be ignored that both drivers are unhappy with their current situation, and as they are out of contract at the end of the season, it provides an opportunity for the French duo.

Haas would not be a sizeable upgrade for either driver, at least not in the short term. But depending on how willing, if at all, they are to escape the Alpine slumber, it could be an option.

Or how about the prospect of luring Daniel Ricciardo, who could be on his way out of RB following his slow start to the new campaign?

Ricciardo, despite his results, has played a huge role in RB’s background operations - a quality that is highly sought after for any lower-half-of-the-grid team.

The Australian, however, may not settle for anything other than a promotion to the front-running Red Bull squad, a scenario that looks less and less likely.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

All signs point to Bearman

In reality, Bearman is the most likely option for Haas - he will have time to integrate himself this season while his stock is already high from his strong debut in Jeddah earlier this year.

Haas may also be able to wiggle some form of discount on its Ferrari power units by agreeing to take on the Italian squad’s junior driver.

From a sporting perspective, Bearman’s arrival on the grid will offer F1 a much-needed injection of freshness that is lacking on this year’s grid, which has carried over the same names in the same places from 2023.

Bearman proved with his sudden call-up last month that he is worthy of a drive in F1. Whether Haas sees him as its man or would rather continue with experienced figures to spearhead its turnaround in form remains to be seen.

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