Hulkenberg fires Bearman warning over F1 future

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Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg has warned Oliver Bearman’s performance to secure points on his F1 debut means the Briton now faces added pressure in his F2 title push.

Bearman was called up by Ferrari at short notice before final practice at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after Carlos Sainz was diagnosed with appendicitis.

The Spaniard has recovered from surgery and will race in Australia this weekend, allowing Bearman to refocus on F2 having finished an impressive seventh at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, rising four positions from his starting position.

Hulkenberg was one driver that Bearman needed to pass during the pit strategy crossover point and having held off his advances, the Haas driver, when speaking to media including RacingNews365, joked of the team’s reserve: “I don’t know what took him so long to get past me, it took him five laps.

“Last year, he was doing a good job in Mexico and Abu Dhabi. I think he did a solid job also in Jeddah, drove a good race with no mistakes.

“He is in the second-best car after all and you see how valuable that is and what kind of a difference that makes.

“It was a bit tough for everyone in the midfield, and for us, to see that, but that’s the way it is.”

‘Way too early to say that’

When put to him that Bearman’s drive was all the more impressive for the lateness of the call-up, Hulkenberg replied: “He raced in F2 last year, he did quali for F2 and I think he has done a lot of simulator stuff for the F1 car too.

“It looked like he felt at home very quickly and that he was well prepared.”

Bearman’s performance was such that there have already been calls to find a place for him on the F1 grid for next season.

Given Haas’ ties to Ferrari, a likely landing place would be at the American-owned outfit in place of Hulkenberg or teammate Kevin Magnussen.

Asked if he saw himself in a shootout to remain on the grid, the German insisted: “I think it’s way too early to say that.

“He has a big job on his hands in F2, first of all, because if he is not doing well there, the Jeddah race will be forgotten in two days.

“So I think there is quite a bit of pressure there for him to deliver in F2 now actually.”

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