Ollie Bearman claimed his maiden Formula 2 pole in Baku in spectacular fashion, driving his damaged car to the top of the times on his last lap of qualifying.
The Prema ace described it over the radio as the “scariest lap of my life”, having completed it with bent steering. The rookie had hit the wall heavily with his right-rear tyre as his car slid at the exit of turn two.
“I was really not expecting it,” he said about the result after qualifying. “I’m sure everyone knows why: I had a bit of damage on my car, so I was actually ready to pit after my first lap [of the second set of tyres]. And then I actually did pole on the second one.
“So thanks to the team for making me stay out. It feels great. And just looking forward to hopefully doing a good job in the races tomorrow.”
“I guess it didn’t [affect the performance] because I was on pole, but for the driving it was quite tough. The steering was quite bent. So I put myself in a lot of unnecessary difficulty, but still we managed to do the pole, so I’m really happy.”
“There’s no margin for error. I found that out. It’s a crazy track. I really enjoyed the free practice [which he was also fastest in], especially the high-speed corners. You need to get massive confidence there to be fast. The track was really fun, and so far I’ve been really enjoying the street tracks.”
Formula Scout asked the Ferrari Driver Academy member where he gained the confidence from for that blistering final lap, having already thought that his session was over while driving a car that “was not straight”.
“I did not really think I could do a lot more,” he admitted. “The team reassured me that with the fuel going down and everything, with the track getting faster, that no matter what I would improve. So I decided to go for it.
“The car was actually really scary because it was like turning right to go straight. I made my life quite difficult, but I just went for it and it was enough.”
Having topped the practice session earlier in the day, Bearman stated that confidence is key to master the streets of Baku.
“I was helped a bit by a mega slipstream in practice. But qualifying was a good performance. I think this track is all about getting the confidence. There’s a lot of heavy braking zones where you need to be on the limit, but of course there’s a wall there. So you need to find the limit without going over it. That goes without saying.
“This track punishes you more than others. Just have a lot of confidence in the car to be strong in the braking zone, and I think that’s key to being strong in this track.”