The Englishman finished a brilliant second in the Sprint Race. The Monegasque, who was fifth yesterday, came second in the Feature race after an exceptional drive up the order.
The first round of the Formula 3 season took place this weekend in Bahrain and there were plenty of positives in Arthur Leclerc’s and Oliver Bearman’s performance, even if a win was just out of reach, despite convincing drives in both races from the Prema team duo. Qualifying did not go as well as expected so that the drivers were on the back foot, but Arthur and Oliver both made it to the podium, which is an excellent sign. Leclerc is now second in the standings on 24 points with Bearman third on 17.
Qualifying. Both Ferrari Driver Academy students struggled to get to grips with their cars, with Bearman only 11th fastest and Leclerc 14th. “It was not a great qualifying session,” commented Leclerc. “I was down on pace in every sector, especially the first one, where we also lacked top speed.”
Sprint Race. Thanks to the reversed grid rule, Bearman started from second, while Leclerc was down in 13th because of a penalty. When the lights went out Oliver tucked in behind the leader, Zak O’Sullivan, staying in his slipstream, working out where he might attack. The chance came on lap 6 and once in the lead, Bearman ran at a quick pace, extending his lead with every passing lap, taking the chequered flag with 3.5 seconds in hand over his pursuers. However, shortly afterwards, the news came that he had a five second penalty for having exceeded track limits four times and this dropped him to second. “It was a great race,” said Bearman. “Obviously not the best in terms of the final result, but I’m really pleased with how it went. The penalty was just one of those unfortunate things.”
Overtaking. Leclerc also showed his abilities in the first race. Starting from the seventh row, he immediately began to move up the order, thanks to some entertaining overtaking moves. “It was a good race,” he said. “A bit disorganised in the early stages, but I managed to come through that and I think that, along with the team we did a really good job to get to the podium positions. My pace was quick, I enjoyed the overtaking and fifth place is a great result given where I started.” Leclerc delivered an even stronger performance in the Feature Race. Starting 13th again, the Prema driver made impressive progress up the order. By lap 7 he was fourth, passing Isack Hadjar and David Vidales, then Juan Manuel Correa and Franco Colapinto, to take the chequered flag 1.5 seconds off the winner Victor Martins. On the podium, Leclerc was clearly happy with his day’s work, applauded by his brother Charles who starts this afternoon’s Grand Prix from pole position.
Rookie. Bearman also did well in today’s race, moving up the order after a chaotic start. After a Safety Car period, Oliver was down in 15th but he did not give up and fought his way up the order to take sixth place at the flag. Overall, an impressive weekend for the Englishman, making his F3 debut in Sakhir. There is now a long break before the second round of the Formula 3 series, getting back on track over the weekend of 22 to 24 April at Imola