Reigning triumphant last time out in the Monza Feature Race, Oliver Bearman enters the break before the final round in high spirits.
Taking some time away from the track, we caught up with the PREMA Racing driver to find out the three people who have impacted him the most and helped shape him into the racer he is today - including a Ferrari legend he one day hopes to emulate.
“He’s an ex-tennis professional. Obviously, he didn't race, but he understood the work you need to put in to make it as a professional in any sport, especially when I moved up from karting to F4 where the work rate and amount of physical training you need to do really increases. He pushed me to change my ways to go from a guy who was karting for fun to someone who wants to make a career in motorsport. He motivated me and influenced a change that has to happen from karting to racing to be successful.
“It's always helpful to have his input because he knows what it takes from all of the other parts that crossover directly from racing to tennis. It was a really useful influence to have and even now, he pushes me in training and in other off-track situations, he's always there right behind me.
“I started working with him when I first moved up to F4 at the start of 2020. That's kind of the point where you need to have a manager. At the beginning he was guiding me a lot more because I had a lot to learn and now, he doesn't need to give that much input because he's already done it. We have really good conversations together about the off-track mindset and approach you need to be a professional and a Champion. We get along really well, he's a good person to open up to and to talk to about hardships and difficulties both on and off track. He’s always someone who is by my side and has my best interests at heart. I’m really grateful for him and probably don't show it enough, so I should.
“He's there with me at every race and he has the experience of what it's like, he understands the pressure, the work ethic and all the other stuff. He's experienced it first-hand when he was my age, so he really helps me to manage everything to work hard and push myself, which is really beneficial.
“He made me understand that just having the talent isn't enough because at the level we’re at, everyone has it. It's about everywhere else where you can make the difference.”
“When I was starting out in karting, I had to learn everything and he was really helpful because he had some racing experience, so he understood the necessary things to help me learn faster. I'm very fortunate because there aren't that many people who are in that situation where their dad has racing experience and of course, the support he has given me over the years has been amazing, even if now he doesn't have as much to offer. I've probably outgrown that, but especially in the early years I didn't take his criticism in the best way - kids always know better, but I'm really grateful to have had him pushing me along.
“My love of motorsport came from my dad’s side of the family. He only raced sportscars in the UK, but it was enough that he knew all of the stuff you needed to be successful in karting. When I was aged six to eight and knew nothing, he sped up the process. He wasn't strict but wanted me to succeed and believed in me. It wasn't the easiest but we both had the same interests at heart and when it was going badly, it was probably because I wasn't driving like I should have. We just tried to build each other up and especially when I was younger, I think I didn't take the criticism very well, especially when it's from your dad, I didn't want to hear it. It was really nice and useful to have though.
“I don't think he gets too nervous now watching me race, but I haven't seen what he's like. He's very chilled and laid back which is nice. He asks a lot of questions, his knowledge of F2 isn't as good but I normally keep him updated on everything just for his piece of mind. We have a really good relationship and I live away from my family, so we spend a lot of time together on race weekends where sometimes it is a bit tense, so it's nice to stay chilled and have a good time together.
“I’ve driven with him once. He used to have a GT car and when I was 14 we did a test day together. We were doing passenger rides and I really want to do that again, maybe hire out a karting track and go around together. We sometimes do rental karting but that’s less about the lap time and more about crashing into each other. We always have fun and definitely in the future, I want to do a day racing with him because he's definitely still got it, he reckons. I'm sure he thinks he could beat me!”
“Someone I look up to as a driver would be Michael Schumacher, especially since I joined the Ferrari Driver Academy. I've learnt a lot more about Michael and before, I knew he was one of the most successful F1 drivers and one of those guys that everyone talks about. When I see an engineer talk about him, I can see the sparkle in their eyes and how much they respect him.
“Walking around the Ferrari factory, a lot of the guys have really fond memories of him and there are so many pictures of him on the walls because he brought so much success. He's obviously a role model for me and something I would like to follow. Even in the gym for example, there is still the same machine that he used to use when he was driving for them. It's just little reminders that this great, amazing guy was here and they keep pushing you on and keep motivation high.
“From what I've known and learnt about him in recent years, it was his work ethic off track that made the difference. He was probably the fittest driver on the grid at the time by a long way and I've heard how hard he was working. He was always thinking about racing all the time, he was always working to improve the car and its that kind of motivation and work ethic that inspires me. It cements the point my manager made that it's important to be strong off track and he's a great example of that for me.
“I remember in Hungary when he had to pull out a huge gap, like 25 seconds in 19 laps. Obviously I wasn't born at that time, but there are a lot of stories like that where he does the unthinkable. Of all his cars, I’d love to drive the 2004 one because it would still stand up to the modern F1 cars in terms of lap time. It still holds the lap record in Fiorano, they still haven't been able to beat that, so it just shows that the driver wasn't bad either! Also, the pole lap he did in Monaco when he came back without any expectations to do well and the grid had moved on by then, but he managed to put it on pole at one of the hardest tracks in not the fastest car. It just shows his skill and ability.”