Formula 1 2024 Saudi Arabia

Verstappen wins as Bearman Impresses on Debut

September 3, 2024

motorsport journalist

Neal Venter

Motorsport Journalist

Just a week after their last dominant victory, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez scored another 1-2 finish for Red Bull in the Saudi GP. Charles Leclerc finished in third place to round off the podium.

Further down the field, a young 18-year-old British driver impressed the entire Formula 1 world. So much so that he even got voted driver of the day, with a massive 50% of the votes.

The thing is, Oliver Bearman didn’t even know that he would be driving a Formula 1 car this weekend. On Friday morning he woke up thinking he was going to be driving his Prema Formula 2 car from pole position in the F2 Sprint race.

Carlos Sainz suffered from appendicitis and had to go in for surgery on Friday morning. As the Ferrari reserve driver, Bearman got the call to abandon his Formula 2 race and jump into the seat of Carlos Sainz’s SF24.

The young Brit only had Free Practice 3 to get up to speed with the car before heading into Qualifying. He impressed on Friday evening as he qualified in P11, missing out on Q3 by just 0.036 seconds to Lewis Hamilton. With less than two hours of experience in a 2024 car, he drove a stellar race to finish in seventh and became the 68th driver in history to score points on his debut.

What’s even more impressive is that he became the first British driver to drive a Ferrari since Eddie Irvine in 1999. He’s also the first driver to make their debut with Ferrari since Arturo Merzario at the 1972 British Grand Prix – 52 years ago! Ferrari are known for not taking rookies in their team, but Bearman became an exception to that rule.

With two weeks until the next race in Australia, it’s likely that Carlos Sainz will have enough time to recover and get back in his car. But we’ll surely see more of Bearman in the future!

The Red Bull Implosion Continues

The Red Bull disaster is spiraling out of control. Rumors are flying around and it’s becoming more of a mess by the day. 

The Christian Horner scandal aside — there have been several key developments in the team this weekend. Helmut Marko is facing a possible suspension from the Red Bull team due to allegedly leaking evidence in the Horner case. An internal investigation is now underway and he could be suspended from the team before the Australian Grand Prix.

Rumors were going around of Marko potentially leaving for Mercedes. However, he was seen in a meeting with Red Bull CEO Oliver Mintzlaff on Saturday morning. Following the meeting, the Austrian assured the media that he will remain with Red Bull for the foreseeable future.

Max Verstappen also sent shockwaves through the team as he publically backed Marko in an interview, stating: "It's very important that he stays within the team. If such an important pillar falls away, that's not good for my situation as well. So, for me, Helmut has to stay, for sure." This only adds fuel to the fire at Red Bull, as they could potentially lose both Marko and Verstappen to Mercedes.

Christian Horner also stated that Red Bull can continue to win without Max Verstappen and Helmut Marko, which may suggest that the rift in the team is already too broken to fix at this point.

But there’s more! John Elkann – the Executive Chairman of Ferrari was seen leaving the Red Bull hospitality center. No one knows what the purpose of his visit was, but he left with a big smile on his face. 

The rumors are that he had a discussion with Adrian Newey about joining Ferrari in the future. Neweu has expressed interest in working at Ferrari before, as it’s the one team he’s always admired but never been with. If this is the case (and judging by the smile on Elkann), Ferrari might have sealed the deal for the best aerodynamicists in the history of the sport.

So, Ferrari might be lining up on the 2025 grid with Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc in a car built by Adrian Newey. At the same time, Red Bull could be destroyed from the inside despite having the best car on the grid.

Heading Down Under Next

In two weeks' time Formula 1 heads to Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix. For most of the world, it’s going to black coffee early on a Sunday morning if you want to tune into the race.

It’s always an exciting track for the drivers and the fans. Albert Park is fast and flowing, with plenty of challenging sections and overtaking sports – don’t miss out!

But we’re likely to see a lot more action off-track before it lights out for the Australian Grand Prix!

motorsports illustrated

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