Zak O’Sullivan and Ollie Bearman had very completely different rookie Formulation 3 seasons in 2022.
The British pair each entered their maiden campaigns as reigning champions – O’Sullivan of GB3 and Bearman of each Italian and German F4. And whereas O’Sullivan stayed with Carlin for his step up, Bearman, as a brand new recruit to the Ferrari Driver Academy, headed straight for the highest with junior sequence powerhouse Prema.
Look behind the differing outcomes, and it’s clear each put in severely spectacular seasons. O’Sullivan produced Farnham-based Carlin’s greatest drivers’ standings consequence – eleventh – of the trendy F3 period; Bearman clinched third within the factors after a chaotic, controversial season finale at Monza he had entered as a title contender.
This yr, the duo each line up at Prema Racing, with O’Sullivan becoming a member of the Italian squad for a second shot at F3 and Bearman graduating to Formulation 2. Each championships kick off in Bahrain this weekend.
Williams Academy driver O’Sullivan shall be one of the vital watched drivers in F3 this yr, and shoulders excessive expectations after stepping as much as such a prestigious seat. For all Carlin’s large success within the earlier iteration of F3, it has struggled within the class because it was revamped for 2019. Even so, he managed to clinch two podiums in his rookie season.
The 2021 Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Younger Driver of the 12 months had anticipated a “difficult yr” in 2022 given the group’s struggles, however mentioned he “nonetheless realized lots” regardless of its under-performance. The 18-year-old believes the group did enhance all through the season, however not as a lot because it had hoped, and he was unable to copy his GB3 success with the group from 2021.
Williams junior O’Sullivan is hoping to kick on after a combined first season with Carlin
Picture by: Prema Powerteam
“It was my first yr probably not combating for a championship, so a little bit of a distinct focus level which took some time to get used to,” he relates. “I feel it was a very good yr, I realized lots, however clearly, not the outcomes we most likely wished.” This yr, although, shall be completely different, along with his transfer to a prime group seen as a “pure step up”.
O’Sullivan’s expertise may imply that he’s considered because the pure chief alongside Ferrari protege Dino Beganovic and Mercedes junior Paul Aron, who graduate from the Formulation Regional European Championship by Alpine through which they completed first and third respectively final yr. Prema is bidding to recapture the drivers’ title after lacking out to ART Grand Prix’s Victor Martins in 2022. Bearman was its highest-placed pilot because it reclaimed the groups’ championship from Trident for its third win in 4 years.
O’Sullivan says the trio are already “working collectively attempting to enhance as a lot as we will as a group,” with Beganovic and Aron accustomed to working collectively after being team-mates in FRECA for the previous two years, whereas O’Sullivan and Aron each drove for the Ricky Flynn Motorsport karting group in 2018. Key to O’Sullivan’s marketing campaign would be the race administration expertise he realized final season.
“I’m not nervous. I imply, it’s like some other season. I deal with each season the identical. Take it sooner or later at a time, one check at a time, and we’ll see the place we find yourself” Zak O’Sullivan
“The Pirelli tyre is at all times fairly a tough beast to handle within the race,” he reckons. “In fact, a yr beneath my belt helps with a little bit of expertise in that facet. I feel normally as nicely, maximising factors within the dash or function race relying on how qualifying goes is kind of crucial. So yeah, I feel a yr of that for certain will put me in good stead.”
Crucial lesson he realized in his rookie season, he says, was persistence: “Clearly my first two years in single-seaters had been comparatively profitable [before his GB3 title, he was British F4 runner-up in 2020], and fairly early on I used to be at all times on the tempo. Final yr was not a lot the case, so I feel I learnt to be affected person. Not the whole lot comes in a single day, and it’s one thing for certain I’ll be taking into this season.”
O’Sullivan, ever a peaceful and picked up presence regardless of his younger age, is coy about his expectations for such a key season.
“Clearly it’d be good to be on the entrance from spherical one,” he suggests, “but it surely’s not a catastrophe if we’re not. It’s an extended championship with plenty of factors out there, so we’ll see the way it goes.”
Regardless of his reluctance to large up his title possibilities, O’Sullivan says he’s feeling assured: “I’m not nervous. I imply, it’s like some other season. I deal with each season the identical. Take it sooner or later at a time, one check at a time, and we’ll see the place we find yourself.”
O’Sullivan is assured of his prospects having realized to know the foibles of the Pirelli
Picture by: Prema Powerteam
Prema boss Rene Rosin has lengthy been impressed by O’Sullivan, whose administration had contacted the group forward of the 2022 season. As soon as the competition got here to its dramatic conclusion at Monza and it grew to become clear that Bearman would graduate to F2, O’Sullivan’s folks took one other likelihood and, says Rosin, “very simply” reached an settlement for the 2023 marketing campaign.
“He’s at all times been aggressive and he at all times gave good suggestions to the engineers, so this was crucial,” Rosin says after the current pre-season check in Bahrain. “Now after all we have to have time with him to analyse the plus and minus of the whole lot and simply to be prepared for the primary spherical.
“The objective is to be prepared for the quali. Being P1 in free follow, actually I don’t care, it doesn’t matter to me as a result of it’s not what I’m on the lookout for. I’m on the lookout for build up confidence and momentum from the quali onwards. We’ve achieved loads of stuff, loads of testing, and now we have been fairly happy with how the whole lot went.”
Ought to O’Sullivan put in a formidable sufficient efficiency this season, he’s more likely to observe in 17-year-old Bearman’s footsteps in 2024. The large step up from F4 to FIA F3 is a notoriously robust one, but he had a surprising rookie season. Bearman scored just one win – and that was in a reversed-grid race at Spa – however there have been 5 podiums throughout the 9 function races, a feat matched by nobody, not even Martins. He additionally outscored his extra skilled team-mates, Ferrari stablemate Arthur Leclerc and Crimson Bull Junior Jak Crawford, who had been sixth and seventh respectively within the factors.
Regardless of spending only one yr in F3, Bearman studies that “we didn’t see the advantage of doing one other yr. In the course of the summer time break, it was just about deliberate to race in F3 once more with Prema. We had a extremely sturdy final three rounds, or two let’s say as a result of Zandvoort was a little bit of a large number, however scored loads of factors. At that stage, my place within the championship I’d say warranted a transfer to F2. However for me, it wasn’t on my thoughts, I used to be simply specializing in the driving.
“As soon as I completed, I appeared again and thought, yeah, I did a very good job, however I used to be nonetheless anticipating to do F3 once more, contemplating my age and the whole lot. However I’m glad that we took the choice to take F2. I really feel prefer it’s a greater step in my studying journey.”
Rosin additionally judged that Bearman was prepared, and mentioned after the occasions of Monza that there was “nothing else to do for him however transfer up. If the race [at Monza] would have completed its laps, I can attempt to wager that he would have gained the championship as a result of he was going to go [Zane] Maloney, and passing Maloney would have been the championship transfer.
Bearman made a powerful impression in F3 final yr and determined he had little to achieve from staying on one other yr to attempt to seal the title
Picture by: Formulation Motorsport Ltd
“Because it was, the championship completed because it completed; Ollie was behind Victor and Zane, however he’s achieved an excellent in his first season. After a season like that the place you combat to the final laps to be champion, it was the fitting step to maneuver up. So I’m actually excited, as a result of he’s a rookie however I’m certain that collectively we will do a very good job.”
Bearman feels he has “grown up massively as an individual” previously yr, pointing to the step in professionalism between F4 and F3. His work with Ferrari has additionally intensified, changing into extra built-in with the F1 group. Your complete prime seven from final yr’s F3 standings – Martins, Maloney, Bearman, Isack Hadjar, Roman Stanek, Leclerc and Crawford – are graduating to F2 this season, and the sphere additionally consists of Alfa Romeo F1 reserve driver and 2022 runner-up Theo Pourchaire and Alpine reserve Jack Doohan. It’s going to be robust.
“My objective is simply to maintain bettering,” admits Bearman. “It’s a reasonably easy objective, but it surely’s an efficient one I took final yr in F3 and it labored out fairly nicely. I simply wish to look again on the weekend and have improved from the earlier weekend. Additionally to not make the identical mistake twice, which though I made a number of too many errors in F3 final yr, particularly with the beginning, it’s one thing that I did nicely – I didn’t make the identical mistake once more.
“My biggest problem is to point out what Prema is able to doing, and I feel with Fred [Vesti] and Ollie [Bearman] we will do it. Nothing in opposition to Dennis and Jehan, however I’m actually trying ahead to Bahrain” Rene Rosin
“I haven’t actually set any expectations, I feel we have to see the place we stand after the primary couple of rounds. Jeddah and Melbourne are query marks, having not pushed both earlier than, so I’ll wait till the European rounds and see the place we actually stand.”
Bearman has already tackled two rounds of testing within the F2 automotive, at Yas Marina and in Bahrain, and says that though it’s “robust to gauge” his efficiency in opposition to his rivals, he accomplished his run programme throughout the three days in Bahrain and “made a step in all areas”.
“In fact, we’re attempting issues to search out as a lot as we will, however that’s how each check goes,” he says. “On that facet it was a very good check. On my facet the tyre administration was one thing that was tougher to rise up to hurry with, particularly on a excessive degradation observe like Bahrain. In order that was one of many areas of focus that we highlighted, however that’s what we’ll be aiming for, I suppose.”
Bearman will line up alongside Frederik Vesti in 2023 as a part of an all-new F2 line-up for Prema. Mercedes junior Vesti completed ninth final yr with ART, however returns to the group with which he claimed the Formulation Regional title in 2019 and gained races in F3 in 2020. His F2 expertise has already proved helpful to Bearman, and the pair shall be seeking to return Prema to the highest of the standings. The squad had a tricky time in F2 in 2022, however did the double in 2020 and 2021, scoring groups’ titles and drivers’ crowns with Mick Schumacher and Oscar Piastri respectively.
Prema misplaced its grip on the F2 title final yr with MP-bound pair Hauger and Daruvala – now Rosin and Bearman are decided to return it to Italy
Picture by: Crimson Bull Content material Pool
The pair change Dennis Hauger and Jehan Daruvala, who’ve each moved to MP Motorsport, the group that gained the crown with Felipe Drugovich final season. Though Prema underperformed in comparison with its common requirements in 2022, Rosin reckons it was “not extraordinarily dangerous,” with the pair scoring three wins between them.
“To be truthful, we didn’t rating the quantity of factors we anticipated,” Rosin states. “In fact, I wish to bounce again. My biggest problem is to point out what Prema is able to doing, and I feel with Fred and Ollie we will do it. Nothing in opposition to Dennis and Jehan, however I’m actually trying ahead to Bahrain.”
Does he have excessive expectations for Bearman?
“It’s the identical as everyone,” he provides. “We have to look race by race, attempt to maximise the outcomes. I don’t wish to make any comparisons, I don’t wish to keep in mind some other yr the place we had rookies, as a result of in F2 it’s potential to win as a rookie. For me, Ollie is doing it in the easiest way potential and I’m certain the outcomes will come.”
For each Bearman and O’Sullivan, there’s no cause why these outcomes can’t arrive.
Rosin has each confidence that Bearman (pictured) and O’Sullivan can each thrive with the group in 2023
Picture by: Ferrari