British teenager Oliver Bearman primed for F1 seat as Nico Hulkenberg leaves Haas

Scuderia Ferrari reserve driver Oliver Bearman of Britain in the starting grid for the Formula 1 Saudi Arabia Grand Prix at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 09 March 2024
Oliver Bearman could be another Briton on the F1 grid in 2025 - Shutterstock/Ali Haider

British teenager Oliver Bearman, who made a sensational Formula One debut for Ferrari in Saudi Arabia last month, has been handed a boost as he looks to secure a permanent seat next season, with Haas confirming the departure of Nico Hulkenberg at the end of this year.

Hulkenberg, 36, will move to Sauber for 2025, freeing up a seat at Ferrari-powered Haas. And Bearman, a Ferrari junior driver, will be fancied to take it.

Chelmsford-born Bearman, who turns 19 next month, is currently a reserve driver for what is effectively Ferrari’s junior team. And he has already shown he has what it takes to succeed at the highest level, finishing seventh in Jeddah, where he showed impressive race craft to fend off fellow Britons Lando Norris and Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages of the race. He had only one practice session before qualifying, stepping in at the 11th hour for the injured Carlos Sainz.

Oliver Bearman of Great Britain and PREMA Racing (3) prepares to drive in the garage during day three of Formula 2 Testing at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on April 25, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain
Bearman is currently driving in the Formula Two championship for Prema - Getty Images/Eric Alonso

“Seventh in your first race in F1 having only done FP3 in a new car is impressive,” Ferrari team-mate Charles Leclerc noted afterwards. “Everybody has noticed how talented he is and I guess it’s just a matter of time before he’s in an F1 car.”

Bearman will get another opportunity to show what he can do when he drives for Haas in first practice at Imola next month, one of a number of scheduled free practice outings for the youngster this season.

Hulkenberg, who spent two seasons with Haas, will join Sauber ahead of the team being rebranded as Audi in 2026.

The veteran German has competed in 208 races in a career spanning 14 years. He finished 10th in China last weekend, tying the record set by Andrea de Cesaris 30 years ago for starting the most grands prix without ever winning one.

Hulkenberg made his debut with Williams in 2010 before competing at Force India, Renault and as a reserve driver at Aston Martin before joining Haas last year. He also drove for Sauber in 2013.

Sauber CEO Andreas Seidl said: “We are very pleased to welcome Nico back here from 2025 and to compete with him in Formula One.

“With his speed, his experience and his commitment to teamwork, he will be an important part of the transformation of our team – and of Audi’s F1 project.

“Right from the start, there was great mutual interest in building something long-term together. Nico is a strong personality, and his input, on a professional and personal level, will help us to make progress both in the development of the car and in building up the team.”

The identity of Hulkenberg’s team-mate next year is uncertain, but Sainz, who will be replaced by Hamilton at Ferrari in 2025, is understood to have held talks with Audi about a possible switch.

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