Home Featured Bearman lacked confidence at Bahrain but instantly felt great in Jeddah

Bearman lacked confidence at Bahrain but instantly felt great in Jeddah

by Ida Wood

Photo: Prema

There is a huge contrast so far between Ollie Bearman’s results in Formula 2’s first two rounds, and it comes down to vastly different levels of confidence in his car.

The Prema driver was 19th in practice at Bahrain, which marked the debut outing of F2’s new car, then qualified 18th and finished 16th and 15th in the two races. In Jeddah he was fourth fastest in practice and took his fourth F2 pole in qualifying.

“It’s great to come back. Bahrain was such a difficult weekend for us. And it left a lot of question marks,” said Bearman after claiming pole by 0.025 seconds.

“I had a great feeling [on this track], already from lap one, and it was like being back in the old car. Bahrain, I never got great confidence with the car, and it really hurt, especially when the field is so close.”

He added: “I knew it would be a good weekend already from lap one in free practice, and I didn’t get that in Bahrain. I think we’re back to normal performance now.”

Prema’s return to form was also highlighted by team-mate Andrea Kimi Antonelli qualifying sixth, after being 17th at Bahrain.

Bearman admits that going into qualifying “Bahrain was of course playing on my mind”, but knew it would be a different story.

“I knew we could be fighting up the front because first of all I’ve always gone well at this track, and the car has always performed well here in the past. So I had confidence. Maybe pole seemed a bit far fetched after last weekend, but I was confident I could at least be in the top five. P1 is nice though.”

Bearman first visited Jeddah in his rookie F2 season last year. He qualified second, was hit out of the sprint race and finished 10th in the feature race.

While he “knew it was going to be tight” at the top in qualifying this time around, Bearman opted while sitting at the top of the times to abandon his last lap rather than attempt to safeguard himself against rivals improving.

“After the first run, we decided to rebalance the car a bit to focus on lap one, because that’s where I felt the performance was. On the first set [of tyres] I managed to improve, even on my third push. Which is a bit too late, means you didn’t really maximise the balance on the first one, or even two. So we made a change to help that.

“I knew it would be on lap one, but my sector one wasn’t the cleanest. But I managed to put the next two together. The second lap, I was going for it, and sector one already felt a bit too much on the limit. So after that I started to slow down and my engineer gave me the call: let’s box. I clearly wasn’t going to improve. I think we made the right call in the end, but it was very tight.”