Leclerc: Bearman handled Ferrari bow ‘perfectly’

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Charles Leclerc has praised stand-in Ferrari teammate Oliver Bearman for handling his late call-up “perfectly”.

The 18-year-old had qualified on pole position for Saturday’s F2 Feature race but was given a late F1 debut ahead of FP3 for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after Carlos Sainz was diagnosed with appendicitis.

Despite his lack of preparation, Bearman only marginally missed out in a spot in Q3 and will line-up 11th on the grid for his first start.

“It is definitely one of the most difficult tracks on the calendar, for sure, being a street track and so fast as well,” Leclerc told media including RacingNews365 when sizing up the challenge facing Bearman.

“He handled it perfectly.

“As soon as he got in with the engineers in the morning, he had so much to understand in order for him to be ready, so we didn’t have much time to speak.

“The only thing I asked when he came in in the morning was ‘are you excited’ and he said ‘I cannot wait’ – I expected this answer.

“It was good to see the excitement for him, for his first race for Ferrari. He has done a great job.”

‘Extremely impressive’

With Bearman impressing straight from the off, Leclerc was quick to point to the behind-the-scenes work completed at Ferrari’s Maranello base.

“I don’t think there was much time to think about it too much because he got the phone call, he arrived at the track and then straight away he had to be on it because there were so many things going on,” explained the Monégasque.

“Ollie is extremely talented and he has shown it once again, but there’s been a lot of work done on the simulator and I am happy to see he found a rhythm straight away because that means that the guys at the simulator are doing a great job and that all the preparation that he has done back at the factory is for something and he has been prepared in the best way possible to be ready.

“It doesn’t take anything away from his talent, it was extremely impressive, what he has shown.”

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