Feature image: @F1FeederSeries1 on Twitter
There is no doubt that Théo Pourchaire is one of the most talented drivers on the Formula 2 grid, backed up entirely by his results of the last three seasons. He shone as a junior in his first season of French Formula 4 in 2018, with 16 junior wins claiming him the championship along with a full race victory at Spa-Francorchamps in the third round.
He followed this up with another championship win a year later, this time in the German Formula 4 championship, also known as ADAC Formula 4. He showed his consistency, with four race wins along with eight podiums enough to give him a seven-point advantage on Dennis Hauger by the end of the season.
After the conclusion of the 2019 ADAC F4 season, Théo tested Formula 3 cars for ART Grand Prix and Carlin Motorsport in Spain and eventually signed with ART a couple of months later. He became the youngest ever driver to win a F3/GP3 race when he took home two consecutive victories at the Red Bull Ring and the Hungaroring in the opening few rounds and finished strong, with five podiums out of the last six races of the year which was enough for second place in the standings.
“It’s difficult to choose because there was a lot of good races at the end, I got five podiums in six races with some great overtakes, great battles on track so it’s difficult to say.”, says the young Frenchman when quizzed about his favourite moment of the 2020 Formula 3 season. “For sure, my two victories as well, my pole position in Monza.”
After the Formula 3 season wrapped up in Mugello at the start of September, Théo had his first taste of Formula 2 after replacing F3 rival Jake Hughes for HWA Racelab in Bahrain for the final two rounds of the season. He ended up outside the points in the four races he competed in, but it was valuable experience for the youngster.
“It was quite a huge step, the car is much more powerful, tyre degredation is a lot higher with Formula 2 with the pit stops in the race and so yeah it’s really, really difficult.”
Pourchaire has had more time in the car more recently at pre-season testing which took place in Bahrain between the 8th and 10th of March. He finished the three-day test with the 13th fastest time which was only four tenths off Marcus Armstrong’s session-topping time. The rookie has taken positives from this and he knows where he needs to improve.
“It was good in the race runs we were quite strong, in qualifying as well. I need to work a bit on myself to put everything on one lap in qualifying, but I think it looks promising,” he says. Pourchaire then expands on this with, “I’m here to learn as much as possible and to improve race after race and to be the best at the end. There is still a lot of work to do but yeah it looks promising.”
The first round of the season kicks off on the 26th of March in Bahrain, a track where most of Théo’s Formula 2 experience has come from. He’s looking to get a hot start to the championship, but he knows he needs to back this up throughout the whole season. “I focus myself on the World Championship because for sure I want great results throughout the whole championship than to win the first round and not be in the top 10 for the rest.”
He then reiterated the importance of getting a good result to start the season, “Last year I lost 30 points on Oscar [Piastri] at the first round and I finished only 3 points behind him so if the championship is as close as last year, then I need to be a bit better in the first round to not lose as many points as last year.”
In terms of his own expectations for himself, Pourchaire thinks it will be a “really, really close championship”. The FIA have slightly tweaked the race format this season in Formula 2, with three races per weekend instead of the two they have been running in recent years. This is part of a cost cutting measure by the FIA, which see’s Formula 2 and Formula 3 racing on alternate weekends while still supporting the Formula 1 race weekends.
“I think to win this championship the key is to be really consistent with three races per weekend. It’s not being able to win one race and to be out in the second one to be only P8. You have to consistently be in the top 10. I think it will be a great championship with a lot of new tracks for me so it will be really interesting and a really promising championship for the fans who will be watching as well.”
Pourchaire will have his work cut out for him for the upcoming season in a very talented grid of drivers including his own team-mate, Christian Lundgaard. The Dane had a very good rookie season the year before, taking victories in Austria and Mugello in the sprint races.
The Frenchman will be measured against the success of his team-mate Lundgaard, who is tipped to be a championship favourite after his seventh place in the standings last season. ART Grand Prix have one of the most exciting driver pairings in the championship, so don’t be surprised if we see them mount a championship challenge to the defending champions, PREMA Racing.