Lewis Hamilton would choose Andrea Kimi Antonelli to take his Mercedes seat when he makes the move to Ferrari next year.

In February, Hamilton stunned the Formula One world by announcing he was exercising a break clause in his contract with the Silver Arrows and would join Ferrari from 2025. 

Several drivers have been linked with the upcoming vacancy at Mercedes, including world champion Max Verstappen, though he is thought likely to stay with Red Bull for next season.

Carlos Sainz – who will lose his Ferrari seat to Hamilton – has also been tipped as a potential candidate, but Hamilton thinks 17-year-old prodigy Antonelli deserves a chance.

"Carlos is a great driver, so wherever he goes I think he would be a positive for any team," Hamilton said of Sainz. 

"Honestly, I have no idea what Toto [Wolff]'s plans are, but for me, taking on a youngster, I would probably take on Kimi."

Antonelli has been part of Mercedes' junior team since 2019 and currently competes for Prema Racing in Formula Two, sitting sixth in the drivers' championship standings after four rounds of the 2024 season.

Speaking at Sunday's Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, team principal Wolff hinted the teenager was under serious consideration for next year.

"I guess for the Italians it's super exciting to have Lewis Hamilton in red next year. We will get used to the outfits, but we have got to look at ourselves," he said.

"Maybe there is an option where we can shine more with an Italian in our car, so we're pushing back hard."

Oscar Piastri insists he is still targeting a podium finish, despite receiving a grid penalty ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver had initially qualified in second place behind Drivers' Championship leader Max Verstappen, with the Australian's teammate Lando Norris in third.

However, Piastri has since been handed a three-place grid drop after he impeded Kevin Magnussen while exiting the pits during Q1.

The 23-year-old admitted he could not see Magnusson at the chicane at Turns 2 and 3, and tried to get clear of the Dane as quickly as possible, though the steward's review highlighted McLaren's failure to give him sufficient warning that a faster car was approaching.

Nevertheless, Piastri did not let the penalty detract from a generally positive display during qualifying, which subsequently sees Norris take second place on the grid, with the Ferrari pair of Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz leapfrogging him to third and fourth respectively.

"I'm really happy with the performance today," he said. "We were so close to pole on track.

"I've been really comfortable with the car from the moment we put it on track yesterday, and I am enjoying my first GP weekend here. We've definitely been on the pace all weekend and confidence is high.

"It is a shame to lose the front row and having to start from P5 as it’s not the easiest track to overtake on. However, we will try our best to recover some positions and fight to finish on the podium."

Max Verstappen takes pole position at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, equalling Ayrton Senna’s record in the process.

It is Verstappen’s eighth consecutive pole in Formula One after he recorded a best time of 1:14.746 around the track in the final qualification session for Sunday’s race.

The Dutchman will share the front row with Oscar Piastri, though he may receive a penalty for impeding Kevin Magnussen in Q1.

Piastri’s McLaren team-mate Lando Norris finished just behind him in third, while the two Ferraris, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, rounded out the top five after failing to build on their strong starts.

Red Bull’s Sergio Perez failed to make it past Q2 after dropping to 11th, while Fernando Alonso was forced to pit before the end of Q3, finishing last. 

Max Verstappen continued to be critical of his own performance despite taking pole position for the Miami Grand Prix.

Verstappen, who won the sprint earlier on Saturday and had on Friday claimed pole in qualifying for that event, recorded a best time of 1:27.241 round the track in the final qualification session for Sunday's race.

The reigning Formula One world champion will share the front row with Ferrari's Charles Leclerc, who like in the sprint, came second.

Leclerc's team-mate Carlos Sainz pipped Red Bull's Sergio Perez to third, while Lando Norris rounded out the top five.

Verstappen, though, was not particularly thrilled with his drive, continuing the trend after both qualifying on Friday and the sprint race.

He said: "We definitely improved the car a bit but I don’t know what it is but every single year we come here I find it extremely difficult to be very consistent with the car and tyre feeling over one lap. It’s super hard to make sure that Sector One feels good and Sector Three at the end of the lap to make that happen together is incredibly tough.

"Again today it was really about finding that balance, I think we did ok, it wasn't the most enjoyable lap out of my career especially with how slippery it is and you aren't very confident on the lap but we are on pole."

Leclerc said: "I felt so much on the limit. It was very close until Q3, where we started to push for the last one or two tenths. We started to lose the tyres in sector two and three, overheating them quite a bit. That's where we lost a little bit of time.

"However, the race is long and this morning we showed a good pace, so I hope tomorrow we can put Max under a bit more pressure."

Lewis Hamilton recovered from a 20-second penalty in the sprint race to qualify in seventh, one place behind Mercedes team-mate George Russell.

Lewis Hamilton’s troubled start to the new season took another desperate twist on Saturday after he qualified a lowly 18th for the Chinese Grand Prix.

Hamilton earlier in the day had led the sprint race in Shanghai for eight laps before he had to settle for runner-up after he was overtaken by eventual winner Max Verstappen.

But less than four hours after Hamilton’s drive to second place – a result he described as his “best in a long time” – the 39-year-old was brought crashing back down to earth when he was eliminated in the opening phase of qualifying for Sunday’s main event.

The seven-time world champion locked up at the penultimate corner on his speediest lap, and he finished in the Q1 knockout zone, leaving only RB’s Yuki Tsunoda and Williams’ Logan Sargeant behind him on the grid.

An exasperated Mercedes boss Toto Wolff looked to the heavens after Hamilton’s fate was confirmed.

“Sorry guys,” reported Hamilton, 39, over the radio. He finished eight tenths off the pace and half-a-second behind George Russell in the other Mercedes.

Aside from his strong showing in Saturday’s 19-lap dash to the chequered flag, this has been Hamilton’s worst-ever start to a season.

The British driver, who is leaving Mercedes to join Ferrari next year, failed to finish inside the top six at the opening four rounds of the campaign. And his bleak result in qualifying here leaves him staring at another underwhelming result.

Carlos Sainz, the man who is giving up his seat at Ferrari for Hamilton next year, brought out a red flag in Q2 after he lost control of his Ferrari.

The Spaniard dropped his rear wheels on to the gravel on the exit of the final corner, sending him backwards into the wall on the opposing side of the track.

Sainz broke his front wing but he was able to limp back to the pits.

Carlos Sainz is refusing to throw in the towel at such an early stage of the Formula One season – insisting he has “nothing to lose” in his last year at Ferrari.

After Max Verstappen led home a dominant Red Bull one-two in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff said the Dutchman was uncatchable this year.

Having clinched the previous three drivers’ titles, Verstappen is once again the overwhelming favourite to claim the crown.

He has won three of the opening four races, with a brake failure causing him to retire early on at the Australian Grand Prix last month – where Sainz went on to take the chequered flag.

The Spaniard was back in action after missing the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix with appendicitis and, having finished third behind the Red Bulls of Verstappen and Sergio Perez at Suzuka, he was not ready to cede the fight.

In what will be the longest season in F1 history – there are still 20 races left with four having been run – Sainz is hopeful Ferrari can improve across the course of the year, although he also doubted if that would be enough to haul in Verstappen.

“I think they are definitely going to have an advantage in the first third of the season until we bring one or two upgrades that makes us fight them more consistently,” he said.

“By that time, maybe it’s a bit too late with the advantage that they might have on the championship. In the meantime, we need more Australias! Which I don’t see Red Bull, as a team, making these mistakes very often, no.

“It is a shame, because also I missed a race, which for both the team and me, it could be costly in the championship. We’re competing in one race less, but at the same time, we’re going to give it our best shot.

“It’s my last year in Ferrari also, so yeah, nothing to lose and we will try everything to make it back.”

Sainz has lost his seat to Lewis Hamilton from next year, the seven-time world champion moving across to partner Charles Leclerc from 2025 onwards.

Hamilton will be hoping to return to a competitive car, with Mercedes struggling for another season this time around.

The 39-year-old has amassed just 10 points so far – his worst-ever tally after the opening four races of a season.

Wolff labelled Hamilton’s first run on the hard tyres in Japan as “atrocious” and the Brit himself was bullish when asked if he could have improved on his ninth-placed finish.

“I don’t know what the different strategy would have been, whether if we stayed on the mediums to start with, but we still had two really terrible hard tyres to run through,” he said.

“It was a real challenge, I think I picked up a bit of damage at the beginning with Charles (Leclerc) when he came around the outside and I had huge understeer for the first stint.

“I couldn’t turn the car through any of the corners. That’s why I let (team-mate) George (Russell) through.

“The hard tyre was pretty bad, as I said, the medium tyre was much better. So for sure, in hindsight it looks like we should have had two (sets of) medium tyres but in general the car, it was just pretty bad.”

A return to China is next on the calendar, with the Shanghai International Circuit hosting its first grand prix since 2019 and with the first sprint race of the season also taking place.

Max Verstappen stormed to pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix as his dominance in qualifying continued.

The world champion has locked out the first spot on the grid this season and there was no answer to his pace at Suzuka.

His time of one minute 28.197 beat Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez into second place by just 0.066 seconds, while McLaren’s Lando Norris was the best of the rest.

Verstappen’s run of pole positions now stretches back to the last race of last season and he is now toasting a third pole in Japan.

The Dutchman never looked like being beaten and was quickest across all three qualifying sessions – as well as Saturday morning’s final practice.

He is aiming to get back on track after retiring in Melbourne and the rest of the field will be concerned that he could drive off into the distance from the start.

“It was quite close at the end,” Verstappen said of his latest pole lap.

“Overall this track is sensitive with the tyres and when you want to go to the limit it doesn’t always work out but what is important is being on pole. Overall, a very good day, a good starting position tomorrow and of course tomorrow is what counts.

“It is great as a team to be P1 and P2, hopefully we can keep that going tomorrow.”

Carlos Sainz won in Australia last time out and will start Sunday’s race fourth for Ferrari, with the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso fifth.

Oscar Piastri was sixth-fastest in the second McLaren, with Lewis Hamilton and George Russell down in seventh and ninth, respectively.

Charles Leclerc is sandwiched between the pair, with home favourite Yuki Tsunoda rounding out the top 10.

Tsunoda scraped into the final session, eliminating RB team-mate Daniel Ricciardo at the end of Q2 to the roar of the Suzuka crowd.

Nico Hulkenberg, Valtteri Bottas, Alex Albon and Esteban Ocon also failed to make it through and will start 12-15th, respectively.

Lance Stroll, Pierre Gasly, Kevin Magnussen, Logan Sargeant and Zhou Guanyu were knocked out in Q1.

Max Verstappen set the pace in final practice ahead of qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix.

The reigning world champion retired last time out in Australia but he was once again top of the timesheets at Suzuka.

His time of one minute 29.563 was unmatched, with Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez getting closest to the championship leader but still having to settle for a gap of 0.269 seconds.

Mercedes lost both cars at the previous race but looked in good shape here as George Russell went third fastest with Lewis Hamilton next in line.

There was plenty of running in the hour-long session after both of Friday’s practices were affected – one by a red flag and the other by rain.

Fernando Alonso was fifth fastest with Lando Norris’ McLaren sixth and Australia’s race winner Carlos Sainz seventh for Ferrari.

His team-mate Charles Leclerc was down in 10th and was left fuming with his garage after the mistimed his final run on the track, cutting short his chances of improving.

Both Williams drivers were able to run after Logan Sargeant’s car was fixed following a big shunt on Friday – although the American was down in 19th place.

Max Verstappen set the pace in first practice for the Japanese Grand Prix as Willams endured another Friday session to forget.

Reigning champion Verstappen retired in Melbourne a fortnight ago but still leads the way in the drivers’ standings and the Red Bull driver was once again topping the timesheets.

Verstappen’s time of one minute 20.056 seconds was enough to see him go quickest at Suzuka, with team-mate Sergio Perez his closest challenger 0.181 seconds back.

A red flag half way through the session stopped running for 11 minutes as Logan Sargeant crashed off at turn two – further adding to the Williams woes.

Sargeant sat out the Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago as team-mate Alex Albon took his car after destroying his own in a practice crash and the team currently have no spare chassis.

Williams team principal James Vowles confirmed the car had suffered “extensive” damage and that it would be a race against time for the mechanics to prepare it for Friday’s second practice.

“It’s going to be difficult,” he said of Sargeant’s chance of making FP2.

“Obviously we will do our utmost to try and get the car back out there again, but the damage is extensive. So it will take a while.

“It is pretty significant (damage). So the chassis is okay, fortunately, but I would say pretty much everything else isn’t – so the suspension around, the gearbox is cracked, big damage.”

Albon went 12th fastest after the action restarted, while Verstappen assumed his usual position as the car to beat.

Carlos Sainz, who won in Australia last time out, was third-fastest for Ferrari ahead of the Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, while the second Ferrari of Charles Leclerc was sixth.

Local favourite Yuki Tsunoda was ninth for RB behind both the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri – whose team-mate Lando Norris rounded out the top 10.

Max Verstappen set the pace in first practice for the Japanese Grand Prix as Willams endured another Friday session to forget.

Reigning champion Verstappen retired in Melbourne a fortnight ago but still leads the way in the drivers’ standings and the Red Bull driver was once again topping the timesheets.

Verstappen’s time of one minute 20.056 seconds was enough to see him go quickest at Suzuka, with team-mate Sergio Perez his closest challenger 0.181 seconds back.

A red flag half way through the session stopped running for 11 minutes as Logan Sargeant crashed off at turn two – further adding to the Williams woes.

Sargeant sat out the Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago as team-mate Alex Albon took his car after destroying his own in a practice crash and the team currently have no spare chassis.

Albon went 12th fastest after the action restarted, while Verstappen assumed his usual position as the car to beat.

Carlos Sainz, who won in Australia last time out, was third-fastest for Ferrari ahead of the Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton, while the second Ferrari of Charles Leclerc was sixth.

Local favourite Yuki Tsunoda was ninth for RB behind both the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Oscar Piastri – whose team-mate Lando Norris rounded out the top 10.

Lewis Hamilton said the inconsistency of his Mercedes “messes with the mind” following his worst qualifying performance in Australia for 14 years.

Hamilton, who boasts a record eight pole positions at Melbourne’s Albert Park, will start Sunday’s 58-lap race from a disappointing 11th after he was eliminated in Q2.

Max Verstappen took pole – his third in as many races – as he bids to complete a record-equalling 10 victories, with Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz joining him on the front row.

Hamilton qualified eighth in Saudi Arabia a fortnight ago, and ninth the week before in Bahrain.

He trails team-mate George Russell, who will line up in seventh on Sunday, 3-0 over one lap this season, and after finishing only seventh and ninth at the opening two rounds, he has scored just eight points to Russell’s 18 so far.

“The inconsistency in the car really messes with the mind,” said Hamilton, who had finished fourth in final practice, less than a tenth off the pace.

“There is a long list of things to fix. Our car is on a knife edge. In the afternoon the wind picks up and the car becomes unstable. But the others can pick their pace up in qualifying and I am not sure why.

“It didn’t feel the same in qualifying from practice even though we had lighter fuel. It is not a great feeling for everyone in the team but we will keep working away.”

Hamilton has not won a race since the penultimate fixture of the 2021 campaign in Saudi Arabia, 57 rounds ago.

Mercedes have adopted a different design philosophy this season, but Hamilton is low on confidence in the last Silver Arrows he will drive before he heads to Ferrari in 2025.

“It is three years in a row where I have had a similar feeling,” continued the seven-time world champion.

“There are spikes like this morning in practice where I think it can be good, and then it disappears.

“If we can make the car more consistent maybe we can be more competitive but there is a lot of work to do and everyone is pushing as hard as they can.”

Hamilton’s Mercedes boss Toto Wolff pulled no punches with his assessment of his team’s performance.

“It’s especially underwhelming because we were within a tenth in final practice,” he said. “The conditions were a little bit different but there is no excuse.

“We have a car that is difficult, and as much as I am annoyed at myself for saying this for a long time, we just need to continue working on it and trying to get better.

“It is not because of a lack of trying that we are where we are, but it’s not good enough.”

At the sharp end of the grid, Verstappen’s third pole in as many races appeared under threat with Ferrari threatening to knock the all-conquering Dutchman off his perch.

But Verstappen upped the ante in front of a record Saturday crowd at a sun-cooked Albert Park of just shy of 131,000, to see off Sainz by 0.270 seconds.

After winning the last nine rounds, stretching back to his victory at September’s race in Japan, Verstappen heads into Sunday’s main event as the overwhelming favourite to take another triumph and match his own record.

“It was a bit unexpected today, but I am very happy with Q3,” said Verstappen. “Both of my laps felt nice and enjoyable. It has been a tricky weekend so far but we managed to be there at the end.”

Sainz, who had emergency surgery in Jeddah to remove his appendix just 15 days ago, added: “It has been a tough couple of weeks, a lot of days in bed, waiting to see if I would be here today, and to make it to this weekend and then to put it on the front row, I almost didn’t believe it.

“I was rusty yesterday but I got up to speed and found the pace and I feel good with the car. I am not going to lie, I am not in my most comfortable state when I am driving out there but I can get it done.”

Max Verstappen is on course to take a record-equalling 10 consecutive victories after putting his Red Bull on pole position for the Australian Grand Prix.

Verstappen’s third pole in as many races appeared under threat with Ferrari threatening to knock the all-conquering Dutchman off his perch.

But Verstappen upped the ante in front of a record Saturday crowd at Melbourne’s Albert Park of just shy of 131,000, to see off Carlos Sainz, who missed the last round in Saudi Arabia with appendicitis, by 0.270 seconds.

Lewis Hamilton holds a record eight pole positions here, but the British driver was eliminated in Q2, leaving him a disappointing 11th on the grid – his lowest starting position in Melbourne for 14 years.

Hamilton failed to progress to Q3 after he finished 0.059 seconds behind George Russell in the other Mercedes.

Russell, who will start seventh, holds a 3-0 qualifying lead over Hamilton who will leave the Silver Arrows at the end of the season to join Ferrari.

Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Sergio Perez qualified third, ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who aborted his last lap after he made a mistake.

Max Verstappen hailed the “incredible” Ferrari stand-in Ollie Bearman after the British teenager qualified 11th for his shock Formula One debut in Saudi Arabia.

Bearman, 18 years, 10 months and one day when the lights go out for Saturday’s 50-lap race in Jeddah, was thrown into the deep end following a dramatic late call-up for Carlos Sainz, who was hospitalised with appendicitis.

But the Essex teenager – with just one hour of practice under his belt, and having never driven an F1 machine at night – came within 0.036 seconds of toppling Lewis Hamilton and progressing to the final phase of qualifying.

Verstappen put Red Bull’s continued off-track woes to one side by taking pole position, with Charles Leclerc second, three tenths back, and Sergio Perez third. Hamilton qualified eighth.

But Bearman, who will become the second youngest driver to start an F1 race, stole the show. And Verstappen, 17 when he made his debut nine years ago, led the tributes.

“What Ollie has done has been very, very impressive,” said Verstappen.

“I watched his first few laps in practice, because that is where you can judge if someone is comfortable in the car, and by lap two or three I thought ‘that is a strong start’, and to be 11th, and only six tenths off pole at the time, is more than you could have asked for. He he has done an incredible job.”

Probably to Christian Horner’s relief, all eyes were off Red Bull and on Ferrari as Bearman followed in the footsteps of Britain’s first F1 champion Mike Hawthorn and John Surtees – the only man to win a world title on two and four wheels – when he rolled out of the Italian team’s garage.

He will be the 12th British driver to race for Ferrari – and the first Englishman since Nigel Mansell in 1990.

Bearman was just 18 months old when Hamilton made his debut in 2007, and he was not even born when Fernando Alonso entered his first F1 race.

But in Jeddah on Friday, Bearman took to the same track as the men who share nine world championships between them. And, remarkably, he came within a hair’s breadth of beating Hamilton.

Forced to abort his first run in Q2, Bearman returned to the fastest street circuit on the calendar and hauled his Ferrari into 11th. He needed to be 10th to make it into Q3.

With the clock ticking down, Bearman geared up for his final run, and rode his Ferrari on rails in a valiant attempt to force his way through. His father David, the millionaire founder and chief executive of an insurance company, was living every minute of his son’s adventure at the back of the Ferrari garage.

Hamilton, failing to improve, afforded Bearman a chance to beat him, only to come up agonisingly short. Berman finished less than six tenths behind Leclerc in the other scarlet machine.

“That was a messy session,” said a critical Bearman over the radio. “Sorry about that.”

But when he faced the media, his smile lit up the night sky.

“I didn’t have time to get nervous or to overthink it,” he said. “I was focused on what to do and didn’t have time to think about the gravity of the situation and that was probably a good thing.

“On Monday, I will feel it and I will be quite proud. I am sure when I step back, I will pinch myself.

“My phone is going crazy but I will have a look at it tonight.”

Following four victories in his rookie Formula Two season – the feeder series to F1 – Bearman was thrust into the spotlight in Mexico City last October, eclipsing Lando Norris as the sport’s youngest Briton to take part in a practice session, when he drove for Haas.

He was handed a second practice run-out in Abu Dhabi a month later. On Saturday, he will surpass Norris – who was 19 years, four months and four days when he made his debut in Australia in 2019 – as the youngest British driver to start a Grand Prix.

“The stars have aligned,” added Bearman. “It has been such a quick progression in my career.

“Three years ago I was still in Formula Four and I only did my first F1 test in October so it has been a really quick progression and to make my F1 debut in red is special. Hopefully it is a sign of things to come.

“There is a lot of analysis to go through tonight – things like starts and pit-stop procedures that I have not had time to work on – so it will be a busy evening but hopefully I will get eight hours of sleep in.”

Teenager Ollie Bearman celebrated becoming the youngest British driver in Formula One history by qualifying 11th in his Ferrari for Saturday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Bearman, 18 years and 10 months to the day, was thrown into the deepest of ends as a last-minute stand-in for Carlos Sainz, who was hospitalised with appendicitis.

But the Essex teenager, with just one hour of practice under his belt, and having never driven an F1 machine at night, came within 0.036 seconds of toppling Lewis Hamilton and progressing to Q3.

Max Verstappen put Red Bull’s continued off-track woes to one side by taking pole position, with Charles Leclerc second, three tenths back, and Sergio Perez third.

Fernando Alonso took fourth, with George Russell and Hamilton seventh and eighth respectively for Mercedes. Hamilton was nearly one second slower than Verstappen.

Probably to Christian Horner’s relief, all eyes were off Red Bull and on Ferrari as Bearman followed in the footsteps of Britain’s first F1 champion Mike Hawthorn, and John Surtees – the only man to win a world title on two and four wheels.

He is the 12th British driver to race for Ferrari – and the first Englishman since Nigel Mansell in 1990. Lewis Hamilton will become the 13th next year.

Bearman was just 18 months old when Hamilton made his debut in 2007, and was not even born when Fernando Alonso entered his first F1 race.

But here in Jeddah on Friday, Bearman took to the same asphalt as the men who share nine world championships between them. And, remarkably, he came within a hair’s breadth of beating Hamilton.

Forced to abort his first run in Q2, Bearman returned to the track and hauled his Ferrari into 11th. He needed to be 10th to make it into Q3.

With the clock ticking down, Bearman geared up for his final run, and rode his Ferrari on rails in a valiant attempt to force his way through. His father David, the millionaire founder and CEO of the (re)insurance Aventum Group, was living every minute of his teenage son’s adventure at the back of the Ferrari garage.

Hamilton, failing to improve, afforded Bearman, 21 years the Mercedes’ man’ junior, a chance to beat him, only to come up agonisingly short. The Ferrari junior finished less than six tenths behind Leclerc – a commendable effort – in the other scarlet machine.

“That was a messy session,” said Bearman over the radio. “Sorry about that.”

Raised in Chelmsford, and schooled at King Edward VI Grammar, Bearman joined Ferrari’s driver academy, aged only 16, after he won both the German and Italian Formula Four championships.

He quit school – despite initial resistance from his mother, Terri – left the family home in Chelmsford and moved to Modena, a dozen miles north of Ferrari’s headquarters in northern Italy.

Following four victories in his rookie Formula Two season – the feeder series to F1 – Bearman was thrust into the spotlight in Mexico City last October, eclipsing Lando Norris as the sport’s youngest Brit to take part in a practice session.

And, on Saturday, he will surpass Norris, who was 19 years, four months and four days when he made his debut in Australia in 2019, as the youngest British driver to start a Grand Prix.

Norris will line up in sixth for Saturday’s 50-lap race, and although the unstoppable Verstappen took his second pole in as many races, the night belonged to Bearman.

Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team were fined nearly £13,000 – and the British driver was slapped with a warning – following a near “serious high-speed crash” in practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Williams driver Logan Sargeant was forced to take evasive action to avoid hitting the back of Hamilton’s slow-moving Mercedes.

Formula One’s stewards said Mercedes should have informed Hamilton that Sargeant was approaching him on a quick lap. The Jeddah Corniche Circuit is the fastest street track on the F1 calendar.

Carlos Sainz, who Hamilton will replace at Ferrari next year and who witnessed the incident, said over the radio: “What Hamilton did there is super dangerous.

“He was in the middle (of the track). He could have got out of the way. Sargeant nearly crashed because of him.”

Hamilton, who finished eighth in practice, six places behind team-mate George Russell – and 0.677 seconds adrift of fastest driver Fernando Alonso – was summoned to see the stewards.

A report from the governing FIA read: “The stewards heard from the driver of Car 44 (Lewis Hamilton), the driver of Car 2 (Logan Sargeant), team representatives and reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, video, team radio and in-car video evidence and determine that Car 44 impeded Car 2 at Turn 11.

“As a result, Car 2 had to take evasive action by going off the track to avoid a collision. Had that not been done, there would have been a serious, high-speed crash.

“Having listened to the team radio, it was clear to us that the team of Car 44 failed to warn their driver of the fact that Car 2 was arriving on a fast lap. That was a serious failure on the part of the team, particularly given the speeds on this circuit and the nature of Turn 11, which is at the end of a series of high speed corners where driver visibility is impaired.

“We therefore issue a warning to the driver and impose a fine of 15,000 euros (£12,818) to the team.”

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