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Haas F1 Team

Why Haas was gushing about Ferrari youngster Bearman's F1 debut

Ollie Bearman drove a contemporary F1 car for the first time in Mexico City Grand Prix practice - and came away having left a strong mark on the team.

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A Ferrari junior is crowbarred into a Haas seat for a practice session and comes away having notched further credits on a reputation that is already burgeoning, meaning it is surely only a matter of time before he graduates to Grand Prix racing.

No, it's not Charles Leclerc, but Ollie Bearman who took part in an official F1 session for the first time after Kevin Magnussen gave up his VF-23 to the Briton in opening practice for the Mexico City Grand Prix.

The 18-year-old, born on the same day, May 8th, 2005, that Kimi Raikkonen won the Spanish Grand Prix and two weeks after the famous Fernando Alonso/Michael Schumacher battle at Imola, acquitted himself excellently during his 60 minutes in Magnussen's car.

The pressure was well and truly on for a driver who just two years ago was racing, and sweeping to titles, in ADAC and Italian Formula 4.

There was a lot to lose for Bearman with expectations always set generally low for when rookie drivers step up for a session.

But the fact that the team praised him over the radio by hailing his "super job" and "excellent work" spoke volumes for a driver with four times as many wins this season in Formula 2 than champion-in-waiting Theo Pourchaire - whose own FP1 running was ruined by issues with the Alfa Romeo he borrowed from Valtteri Bottas.

What did Haas say about Bearman?

Bearman's potential piqued interest during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix support event when he completed the rare feat of winning the reversed grid Sprint from ninth and then the Feature from pole.

He was so dominant in Baku that he was only denied a sweep of everything on offer by Isack Hadjar nicking feature fastest lap but Bearman's performance was rare.

The Sprint/Feature double is something not even the famed F2 class of 2017-18 including Charles Leclerc, George Russell, Lando Norris or Alex Albon managed.

Despite the impressive track record, Haas engineering director Ayao Komatsu (below) revealed he was even taken aback by Bearman's professional approach.

"I don't think you can expect much better," he explained to media including RacingNews365 of Bearman's performance.

"It was certainly better than my expectations were - not that my expectation was low - but that he was so professional and he didn't put a foot wrong.

"The communication and the feedback were really good as well. I've got nothing to complain about. It was a really impressive FP1.

"The surprise is how well he managed everything, really.

"Honestly, I can’t pick a moment from all the way through that preparation where something was frustrating or difficult, including his management.

"It’s been a really smooth process. It’s been a pleasure to work with him and his management team.

"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, and very, very easy to deal with in every single process.

"He understood the objectives of every single run. He didn’t put a foot wrong."

Perhaps the only blot on Bearman's copybook was the fact he did not maximise his lap on the Soft C5 Pirelli, eventually finishing his session in 15th, 0.345s down on team-mate for the hour Nico Hulkenberg - who is starting his 200th Grand Prix this weekend.

Bearman was the fastest of the five junior drivers in for the session and even shaded one Fernando Alonso - celebrating his 377th entry this weekend by 0.034s.

Indeed, Alonso made his 56th race start on the day Bearman was born. Not a bad start.

Article continues below.

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What did Bearman himself make of it?

"It's really nice to work with the team. These guys have a lot of experience in F1," Bearman explained, having been partnered with Magnussen's race engineer Mark Slade - an engineer who has worked with the likes of Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard, Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher in his time.

"My engineer has been around since the 1990s with McLaren so he brings a lot of insight and a lot of wisdom.

"It's really interesting to hear from him, and all the guys are welcoming.

"Leaving the garage was an amazing experience for the first time to be on-track with all the other guys, it was super cool and I was a little bit nervous but I managed to get comfortable really quickly in the car and put it on the limit.

"In terms of my personal performance, I was quite happy with how I went about it and with my execution so it was a really positive session.

"When the session finished I was a bit sad, and was saying it was the fastest hour of my life, but you know what they say, time flies.

"Now I want to do the whole weekend but obviously that won't be the case."

One suspects that chance of completing a full Grand Prix weekend will come around much sooner rather than later...

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	© XPBimages

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