Max Verstappen wins again as young Briton Ollie Bearman finishes seventh

By Sports Desk March 09, 2024

Max Verstappen romped to another commanding win at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, as rookie British teenager Ollie Bearman completed a dream debut by beating Lewis Hamilton to finish a brilliant seventh.

Despite threatening to quit Red Bull just 24 hours previously, following another twist in the ongoing Red Bull saga, Verstappen followed his win at the season-opening round in Bahrain last Saturday with another comfortable triumph in his all-conquering machine – remarkably his 19th in 20 appearances.

Sergio Perez completed a one-two finish for Red Bull, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc third.

But for Bearman, just three months old when Hamilton made his debut in 2007, this will be a night he will never forget.

Handed his shock debut as an 11th-hour stand-in for Carlos Sainz, the boy from Chelmsford, 18 years, 10 months and one day, drove into the record books as the youngest British driver to start a Formula One race.

Standing at 6ft 3in, the streaky teen followed in the footsteps of British greats’ Mike Hawthorn and John Surtees by racing for the scarlet team – and the first Englishman to do so since Nigel Mansell 34 years ago.

Bearman appeared at ease before the start, smiling with his engineers and grinning from ear-to-ear as he addressed the Sky cameras before taking his position between Yuki Tsunoda and Kevin Magnussen at the front of the grid for the national anthem.

With just one hour of practice under his belt, and a qualifying appearance – labelled incredible by Verstappen – Bearman, starting 11th, was just moments away from competing against the best 19 drivers in the world.

As the lights flicked from red to green, Bearman was slower away that he would have liked but made up for it by being aggressive on his brakes and hanging on to 11th place, despite a slight detour off the track.

Up front and Verstappen had no trouble in keeping Leclerc at bay. Midway through the opening lap he was already 1.3 seconds clear of the chasing pack.

On lap seven, Lance Stroll put his Aston Martin in the barrier. The Canadian broke his suspension by clipping the armco on the entry to Turn 21 before slamming into the tyre barrier on the opposing side of the track.

Out came the safety car and in came the leaders – bar Norris and Hamilton – for fresh rubber.

Bearman, forced to wait as other cars drove by him as he was stationary, dropped three places to 12th.

Norris led when the race resumed, only for Verstappen to swoop past three laps later. Rookie Bearman was also on the move.

He immediately despatched of Tsunoda for 11th and was in a point-scoring position on lap 14 after he swatted aside Zhou for 10th.

Up next was Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg – and Bearman wasn’t mincing his words.

“Mate he is so slow,” said the 18-year-old of Hulkenberg, the German double his age and in his 205th Formula One start.

And on lap 21 he eased past the Haas driver for ninth, with George Russell only 5.6 sec up the road.

Bearman’s engineer Riccardo Adami was swiftly on the radio. “You are doing a mega job out there,” he said. It was hard to disagree.

Norris and Hamilton, both out of strategy sync after electing not to pit behind the safety car, stopped for fresh tyres and Bearman was now seventh and ahead of both of his countrymen.

When Norris stopped on lap 37 of 50, Bearman was 6.1 seconds up the road. Hamilton, was seven seconds adrift.

“At this pace will Norris catch us or not?” asked the teenager on the radio.

“We might have a chance to stay ahead of both of them,” came the reply from the Ferrari pit wall.

The lap counter ticked down but Bearman showed maturity way beyond his years to hold on to seventh place. McLaren’s Oscar Piastri took fifth ahead of Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso and Mercedes’ Russell.

Bearman took the chequered flag just 5.7 sec behind Russell and comfortably ahead of Norris and Hamilton.

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  • Verstappen beats Norris to claim fourth Spanish Grand Prix win Verstappen beats Norris to claim fourth Spanish Grand Prix win

    Max Verstappen claimed his fourth Spanish Grand Prix triumph in Barcelona as he continues to increase his lead at the summit of the F1 driver's championship. 

    Having started second on the grid after Lando Norris snatched pole position from his grasp on the last lap of qualifying, the three-time world champion wasted no time in overtaking the McClaren driver. 

    However, George Russell raced around the outside to take the lead in the race going into the first corner, having started fourth on the grid. 

    But it would not take long for the Dutchman to reclaim the position he has found himself in for much of the season, performing an exceptional overtake on Russell before remaining in control of the race throughout, despite Norris' late charge.

    Lewis Hamilton would come home in third for Mercedes, claiming his first podium of the season, with team-mate Russell eventually finishing fourth, closing the gap to both McClaren and Ferrari in the constructors' championship. 

    Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz had yet another disappointing afternoon on the track, while Verstappen's team-mate Sergio Perez picked up four points, having finished in eighth place, despite starting the race in 11th after being handed a three-place grid penalty from the Canada Grand Prix. 

    Final standings

    1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

    2. Lando Norris (McLaren)

    3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

    4. George Russell (Mercedes)

    5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

    6. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)

    7. Oscar Piastri (McLaren)

    8. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)

    9. Pierre Gasly (Alpine)

    10. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

  • Hamilton and Verstappen confident of dethroning Norris at Spanish Grand Prix Hamilton and Verstappen confident of dethroning Norris at Spanish Grand Prix

    Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are confident they can claim victory from the clutches of Lando Norris ahead of Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix. 

    The pair, who have won the previous eight Spanish Grands Prix between them (three for Verstappen and five for Hamilton), start second and third on the grid in Barcelona. 

    The seven-time world champion out-qualified team-mate George Russell for only the second time this season as the Mercedes drivers took third and fourth, underlining their re-emergence as contenders close to the front after a series of car developments. 

    “I’m really happy, thank you everyone I’m super happy to be here in the top three," Hamilton said. "It’s been a difficult year and a huge amount of work from everyone back at the factory, and finally we are starting to see those incremental steps moving closer to the guys ahead.

    “I didn’t expect us to be fighting for pole necessarily, but there were bits there where I thought maybe we will be close and so to be there I’m just grateful.”

    On the team making steps forward, he added: “We’ve made huge steps forward and it’s really just down to every single individual back at the factory who is pushing and designing and making the new parts that we get to bring as early as possible to these races.

    "Slowly the car is crafting into a racing machine that we can hopefully fight the guys at the front.

    “George did a great job today so hopefully tomorrow we can apply pressure to the two cars ahead.” 

    Red Bull's Verstappen will start on the front row, but in second place after being pipped by Norris to claim his second career pole. 

    The Dutchman appeared out of reach when he improved his own time, which was already fastest, by more than 0.2 seconds on his final run, only for Norris to cross the line moments later to beat Verstappen by 0.02 seconds. 

    However, Verstappen is confident of claiming a seventh victory of the season to grow his lead over Leclerc at the top of the driver's championship. 

    "I think in qualifying it was all coming together a bit nicer," Verstappen said. "We have been trying to find the balance because the practice sessions have been difficult.

    "So I was quite happy in qualifying - I even got a nice little tow from Checo to Turn One to really extract everything we could. But unfortunately, it was just not enough. That is how it goes sometimes and overall we can still be very happy with this performance in qualifying and definitely all to play for tomorrow.

    "Even throughout qualifying, the wind started to pick up a little bit, maybe that made it a bit more difficult for us. Overall, a good performance again in qualifying.

    "They are never easy qualis because you're always in a battle with yourself. of course now, there's more teams. And when it's that close for pole position, it's always great."

  • Norris celebrates 'pretty much the perfect lap' after pipping Verstappen to pole Norris celebrates 'pretty much the perfect lap' after pipping Verstappen to pole

    Lando Norris celebrated "pretty much the perfect lap" after he claimed pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix ahead of Max Verstappen.

    McLaren's Norris set the best time of 1:11.383 in Barcelona on Saturday, which had started dismally for the team when their hospitality facilities had to be evacuated due to a fire.

    Norris, who was 0.2 seconds quicker than Verstappen, showed no sign of distraction though, and with all staff having been safely ushered from any danger, it was a day to celebrate for the team, whose second driver Oscar Piastri rounded out the top 10 despite failing to set a time in Q3.

    "It was pretty much a perfect lap, when you are on a good lap and getting excited but the whole thing went perfectly in the end," he said.

    "It was close but super happy, it was my best pole position, I've not had many. We've been close all weekend but really this was about a perfect lap and that is what I did today.

    "It's not just this weekend, we've been quick the last two months, and since Miami we've been very strong.

    "We probably missed out on pole by not doing a perfect lap but today was the perfect lap."

    It was also a good day for Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, who qualified in third, one place ahead of team-mate George Russell.

    Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz placed fifth and sixth respectively.

    Top 10

    1. Lando Norris (McLaren) 

    2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull)

    3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

    4. George Russell (Mercedes)

    5. Charles Leclerc (Ferrari)

    6. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)

    7. Pierre Gasly (Alpine)

    8. Sergio Perez (Red Bull)

    9. Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

    10. Oscar Piastri (McLaren)

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