Ollie Bearman: another great rookie in F1 with no FIA karting background

Columns: From Kart to F1
Months after Liam Lawson, another very convincing debut in F1 by a driver who has indeed raced in karting, but not FIA karting (fm)

The question is legitimate, considering the way the FIA has integrated karting, given the consequences it has had and is having on karting: what is the link between FIA karting and Formula 1? If we can speak clearly about karting as the only possible starting point for those aspiring to become a "professional driver", it is not clear how FIA titles currently fit into that scenario and feeder series. If we look at the 'official' narrative of FIA karting, it is now clearly oriented towards F1 even though the few titled races present in the calendar are now drowning in such a dense program of top-level international races that in the eyes of many, the titles they represent have lost much of their prestige.
But let's focus on Bearman: those who follow our sport immediately noticed that British kid at the end of the pandemic who, at the first shot, nailed two F4 titles (Italian and German) and contested the F3 title on debut (where he finished third in 2022, just 7 points behind the winner Martins). At that point, after a very consistent year in F2, he convinced on debut with Haas F1 at the end of 2023 and then we know, it's a matter of sliding doors and oh boy, did he seize his opportunities: 7th on debut in Ferrari on a track like Jeddah, what else can you say, hats off. Returning to his years in karting, let's conclude the analysis and put it back in the hands of those who run the sport but also those who are part of it and are its backbone: teams, manufacturers, drivers' families: Bearman's dad – who knows a lot about investments, being the CEO of a company that manages insurance assets worth billions of euros – simply excluded FIA karting, as his kid was doing very well in single-brand competitions (winner of the IAME X30 Finals both in Junior and Senior) and when his racing preparation made it possible, he made the leap to single-seaters – being able to afford it. So, it's not so much a technical issue here: whoever is strong in ROTAX or IAME will probably also be strong in cars, and whoever is a flop in the FIA World Championship – let the dads be convinced – will also be a flop in cars. The point is that it is now in the hands of the FIA to decide whether it wants to ensure the survival of this sport by avoiding its dangerous association with F1 – and the academies – by truly valuing it differently (for example, by significantly valuing the OK-N class), or if it wants to incorporate it into a global business system that does not belong to the original karting – and which could ultimately prove detrimental to everyone even if everything seems to be going well now. If the FIA World Championship and European Championship cannot distinguish themselves from other races, let's make something different, which may also promote our sport without the usual and tiresome association with F1: any ideas?


 

Created by: fmarangon2 - 10/03/24

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