Sainz Future Uncertain as Oliver Bearman Rises as Reserve Driver

Charles Leclerc signed a new contract with Ferrari last week, but Carlos Sainz’s future with the team appears more uncertain.

Ferrari has chosen Oliver Bearman as the official reserve driver for the 2024 season, raising concerns for Carlos Sainz, whose contract extension is yet to be confirmed, with his current deal set to expire at the end of the next year.

Team principal Fred Vasseur emphasized at the end of 2023 that Ferrari would delay addressing contract extensions for their two drivers until after the season finale in Abu Dhabi. Both drivers’ contracts are scheduled to expire at the end of the 2024 campaign.

Ferrari has officially announced Charles Leclerc’s multi-year contract extension. However, there is still no confirmation for Carlos Sainz, even though negotiations are ongoing. The prolonged process is causing increasing unease within Sainz’s camp.

While a renewal is anticipated, disparities in demands are evident. Sainz seeks equal treatment to his teammate Leclerc, expecting a comparable contract length and salary.

Ferrari, on the other hand, is inclined to maintain flexibility and is favouring a shorter contract for Sainz. A significant factor behind their hesitancy to secure a long-term commitment from the Spaniard is the remarkable progress of Bearman, a standout talent in the driver academy.

Bearman had a promising debut Formula Two season in 2023, showcasing confidence and outstanding performances.

Bearman is anticipated to contend for the F2 title in 2024 and a strong rookie season could position him as a potential replacement for Sainz at Ferrari as early as 2026.

In navigating potential scenarios to the top, Ferrari has a history of embracing risks with their drivers. Leclerc’s transition from Sauber, based on a remarkable junior career akin to Bearman’s, exemplifies this approach.

Ferrari’s confidence in Bearman as a prospect is evident, as he joins Antonio Giovinazzi and Robert Shwartzman as a reserve option for the team. This situation intensifies the pressure on Sainz, possibly leading him to accept a secondary role within the iconic Italian team.