Haas hopes Ferrari will loan out junior driver Ollie Bearman to them in 2024, after the team worked with him on-track for the first time this week.
Bearman drove in free practice one at the Mexico City Grand Prix, the first of two planned outings with Haas. Ferrari supplies the team with engines, and has confirmed Bearman will spend 2024 in Formula 2 – where he has four wins as a rookie – and get ‘much more’ in the way of Formula 1-related opportunities.
After Bearman’s F1 practice debut, Haas’s trackside engineering director Ayao Komatsu said “I don’t think you can fault him”.
“All the way from the initial preparation, he’s been very professional, very, very easy to deal with in every single process, I have nothing to complain. Then today, with the calmness, procedures he understood, he understood the objectives of every single run,” Komatsu explained.
“We got another session planned with him in Abu Dhabi. So really looking forward to that. And then hopefully more sessions next year as well. So it’s very promising.”
He added: “I don’t think you can expect much better. And certainly better than my expectations were. Not that my expectation was low. But that was so professional and he didn’t put a foot wrong.”
Bearman will “set a timer” before his next call-up with Haas. “It’s a long way away. It’s a bit unfortunate, it was over so fast. But now I’m just going to be back on the sim, back preparing for Abu Dhabi.”
Getting a taste of F1 also reaffirmed his belief that he can make it onto the grid in the future.
“I’ve just got to keep focusing on myself, I have to do a good job next year in F2, and if that’s enough, that’s enough. If it’s not, then I don’t know what to say.”
Reflecting on his first time in the Haas VF-23, Bearman felt he already knew where his strengths and weaknesses were.
“I feel like braking came quite fast. I was pretty strong in sector one straight away. High-speed is a thing where you need to find the confidence, and of course with a car that’s not mine I didn’t want to go too hard,” he explained.
“The thing is every time they told me where to improve, it was clear. I just had to try to get the right rhythm through sector two, in the high-speed corners with the kerb usage, and I only really did that on the last lap.”
“I knew what I needed to work on, and it’s nice to have a bit of confirmation from the engineers.”
Bearman also did not “want to make a bad first impression” on other drivers during his performance run.
“You’re trying to do a slow lap, get the tyre in the window and also stay out of the way of cars. And not get stuck in the traffic. So it’s a lot of stuff to manage,” he said. “And I pretty much stayed out of the way of everyone.”