British motorsport fans have another hero to cheers on in Ollie Bearman, that much is clear after just a couple of rounds in the two most important Formula 4 championships; the Italian and the German. The 16-year-old is dominating both and already made his debut in British F3 this season. A look at his short single-seater career and the extend of his talent.
By Floris Visman
2020 could not have been an easy year to make a debut in a sport like this where testing and experience is everything. But Ollie Bearman, who signed with German outfit US Racing for a full campaign in ADAC F4 and a partial one in Italian F4, showed the extend of his talent by seemingly effortlessly starting off with three points finishes in his first ever Formula 4 round at Lausitz. At Hockenheim (Round 3) he scored his first victory in F4. Meanwhile in Italian F4 he bagged a win in the final weekend at Vallelunga.
The Brit finished his first season in ADAC F4 in 7th with 144 points and three podium, though he lost out to his more experienced team mate Elias Seppanen (3rd, 257 points) and German rookie Tim Tramnitz (4h, 226). He did beat another rookie team mate with Vladislav Lomko (8th, 133 points). Interestingly he equaled the win tally of Seppanen and Tramnitz; all three of them won once. In Italian F4 meanwhile, Bearman only competed in three of seven rounds, but still managed to finish 7th in the championship with 85 points. That was for instance higher than Prema rookie Sebastian Montoya (11th, 81 points) who did a full campaign.
That last fact must have impressed Van Amersfoort Racing (VAR) team boss Frits van Amersfoort. The Dutch outfit contracted Bearman over the winter to team up with Joshua Dufek, Cenyu Han, Nikita Bedrin and Bence Valint. VAR is considered a top team in both ADAC F4 and Italian F4, a fact that would greatly improve his chances to do well. But still it had to come from the driver. In May, about a week and a half after his 16th birthday, Bearman surprised by also signing a deal with Fortec Motorsport in British F3.
“I’m really excited to be joining Fortec Motorsport’s team for the 2021 BRDC British Formula 3 Championship”, he said of his partial campaign when he was unveiled as their third and final driver. “The relationship with the whole team is fantastic, and the car itself is so much fun to drive. I’m looking forward to kicking things off with this weekend at Brands Hatch GP.”
Again Bearman showed he had no trouble adjusting to a higher level of racing. And to think that this was his first race there. “It’ll be my first time at Brands Hatch, but the track seems fantastic from the laps I’ve put in using the simulator. I’m sure we’ll be up there.” In the first (and only thus far) round he competed in he had the better of his more experienced team mate Roberto Faria and fellow rookie Mikkel Grundtvig. Where Faria couldn’t do better than a 6th place in Race 2 and Grundtvig taking 5th in Race 3, Bearman stunned everybody there with two 2nd places in a row.
Oliver Dutton, Fortec’s team manager, was impressed by the young driver. “For Ollie to make his debut, put the car on the front row in qualifying and then walk away with two podium finishes is a superb effort, so we’re really pleased with how quickly he’s acquitted himself at this level.”
Going back a little, Bearman had high expectation for his second year in Formula 4, especially now with a front runner like VAR. “We had a very positive test at the end of last year and I am confident that we have the ability to be really strong together. There are a lot of good teams and drivers in F4, but our goal is to finish 2021 with a championship title. I am looking forward to getting on-track and preparing with the team for a big season ahead.”
The young Briton put his money where his mouth is, by winning the two opening races of the ADAC F4 season. After leading Race 1 from start to finish, he explained how he bagged Race 2. “I am really happy. We knew from qualifying and the first race that we have the pace. I had a very good start and was then able to open a lead, which I managed to maintain right through to the finish.” That success doesn’t come natural, but is something that has to be worked for everyday, Bearman showed in that race. “The key to the win was definitely the start, which is not actually one of my strengths. I have worked on that and this start was the basis for the victory.”
After that first round team boss Frits van Amersfoort had seen enough of Bearman to know what he had on his hands. “Oliver is an intelligent driver and takes input on board like no other. He has already proven to be very strong and competitive this year. Together with him, we will do everything in our power to maintain this momentum. He definitely has it in him to be a champion, but he is not the only one on the grid.”
Round 2 of the championship at Zandvoort was a walk in the park for the youngster, and he isn’t afraid to say so. But although he oozes confidence, he doesn’t forget to thank his team for another two wins. “That was a really good race from me. I am very quick this weekend. The key to the victory was definitely pole position. We knew beforehand that qualifying would be particularly important, as overtaking manoeuvres are risky here in Zandvoort. I owe this victory to my team. The set-up of the car was top in all areas.”
Bearman now leads ADAC F4 by quite a margin. After two rounds number two Montoya is already trailing by forty points. In Italian F4 meanwhile, he has an even bigger lead (66 points to Tramnitz, who missed a round though). The first four races he went without a win, but Bearman is on an incredible five-race win streak and he seems unstoppable.