Hamilton warns Bearman of ‘massive challenge’

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Lewis Hamilton has heaped praise on Ferrari debutant Oliver Bearman but warned his first race will be a “massive challenge”.

Bearman makes his F1 bow at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix having been called upon by the Scuderia to fill in for Carlos Sainz, who has undergone surgery following an appendicitis diagnosis.

Briton Bearman was forced to forfeit F2 Feature race pole to take the late call-up and despite missing both of Thursday’s practice sessions, he narrowly missed out on a spot in Q3.

“He nearly took me out!” laughed Hamilton when speaking to media including RacingNews365 after beating Bearman to a Q3 spot by less than 0.040secs.

“He did such a great job.

“Really sad to hear the issue for Carlos, I hope he is safe and well and has a good operation.

“But to jump in for FP3 without any practice and deliver like he has… mega, mega. Really impressed and it shows just what a talent he is. Also, the car looks really good and he has obviously got confidence straight away.”

‘Keep it cool and enjoy it’

Bearman becomes the third-youngest driver to take part in an F1 race at just 18 years old and asked about the challenge facing his compatriot, seven-time champion Hamilton explained: “I was 22 [on debut]. At 18 I was in F3 and I was nowhere near ready for F1 at 18 but the times are different.

“If I had come in at 18, my career might not look how it has so I am glad I waited.

“But Max came early, Kimi came early and others have done. Me having waited, that’s why I had 12 consecutive podiums in the first 12 races of my career, so I am glad I got that base.

“He has not even done any long runs, he’s obviously had experience of F2 but it will be a massive challenge.

“I think he’s ready, he looks in great shape and I think the car tended to be kind to the tyres in the last race.

“He just needs to keep it cool and just enjoy it.”

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