Ferrari Driver Academy driver Oliver Bearman is hoping to build on some notable progress in 2023, and says he's drawing inspiration from how Oscar Piastri managed his own route to F1 stardom.
Piastri won the Formula 3 championship in 2020 and followed that up with the F2 title the following year. He sat out 2022 in favour of a test role with Alpine, and was offered a full-time seat in 2023 only to opt for McLaren instead.
Bearman was third in last year's F3 series and competed with Prema in F2 this year, clinching four race wins and one further podium. It earned him two Free Practice 1 outings with Haas in Mexico and Abu Dhabi.
"It was a positive session," Bearman said after his FP1 session at Yas Marina. "I built up step-by-step, the car felt good underneath me and we completed the program. That’s what I’m here to do.
"I think the team are happy, but I couldn’t debrief with them as I had to go back to Formula 2 afterwards,” he added.
The 18-year-old from Chelmsford, Essex in the UK subsequently went on to take part in this week's post-season test with the team, and earned himself positive reviews from all involved.
He's hoping that keeping his name in front of F1 team principals will help him earn a chance of graduating to Grand Prix racing in future, citing Piastri's strategy for getting in-car experience as a template for his own approach.
“He showed that preparation is really important,” Bearman told the media in Abu Dhabi. “Once you join F1, you're going up against guys with a lot of races under their belt.
“Coming in as a rookie is a difficult job, so it's something that we've thought about," he commented. “It will be really important that before I start an F1 campaign, I need to be really prepared.
“Hopefully that looks like more FP1s and maybe some private testing as well, but I don't have any say on that," he admitted. “But in an ideal world, that would be how I approach an F1 season.”
Along with FP1 appearances, the post-season test is one of the few opportunities remaining for rookie drivers to get a taste of up-to-date F1 equipment.
For all other testing, F1 rules mandate that a car must be at least two years old before it can be used in private outings.
The last change to technical regulations was at the start of 2022, which reintroduced ground effect aerodynamics and changes to other aera parts to reduce the effect of dirty air and tighten up competition on track.
It means those cars will become available to reserve drivers like Bearman to work on from the start of 2024.
“I tested the 2021 car," Bearman noted, referring to a Ferrari chassis. "It's still an F1 car, I think it's even a little bit faster than the current generation.
“But the fact that from next year you can use the 2022 cars will be really helpful, because it's the same generation of car and not much has changed since then," he said. "That's good to know, and hopefully we can make use of that.”