F1: Pourchaire on pole for works Audi drive

(GMM) Theo Pourchaire appears to be in pole position for a future at Sauber, with the team set to be majority-controlled by Audi by 2026.

Team boss Frederic Vasseur said recently that it’s too early to discuss who the first works Audi driver will be.

“For sure we have Valtteri (Bottas) on board, we have (Guanyu) Zhou on board, we have Theo in the pipeline,” he said. “But we will have time to discuss about this.”

Frederic Vasseur

Pourchaire, 19, had intended to quit Formula 2 after this year’s campaign, in which he finished second overall in his second full-time season.

“This is my last F2 season for sure,” he told RMC in July.

“Financially it won’t be possible. It’s not a good solution. Two seasons in a championship is enough for a driver.”

Sauber, currently known as Alfa Romeo, intends for Pourchaire to be the full-time F1 reserve driver in 2023.

“The reserve driver role is multifaceted,” said team boss Vasseur. “Many drivers who shine today in F1 have not done better than he did in Formula 1.

“He is also really very young. The conclusion we drew was that we needed to structure him a little more, give him more experience, more technical work – especially outside the car.”

A full program is mapped out for Pourchaire next year, with Vasseur revealing he will do “two FP1s, tests during the season and the tests after the season”.

“After that he will be in charge of development in the simulator and also during the race weekends. It is a real structuring program for him because there are briefings before, briefings after, being with his engineers, his mechanics, himself in his preparation. The whole way of approaching racing.

“When you’re 18 or 19, it’s not always easy to position yourself compared to people of your father’s age who are professionals. But I’m not worried about that for him.

“I think it just takes the situation and the opportunity to do it.”

Part of Vasseur’s plan is that Pourchaire keep racing next year – which means overturning his decision not to do a third consecutive season in F2.

“We are thinking about having him do a parallel racing program to allow him to stay sharp competitively,” said the Frenchman.

“There is Japan (Super Formula), which is an option. F2 is an obvious option, because it means he stays with us, in our world, in contact with us.”

Pourchaire admits he may overturn his decision to leave F2.

“If there is a good contract and a good option, why not do F2 again?” he said. “I am 19 years old, I will still be one of the youngest drivers next year. Every year I remain the youngest,” Pourchaire laughed.

“Perhaps I won’t do anything with the reserve driver role. After the stress, the race, the life is still good. The simulator is good but it’s not reality.

“My main role will be reserve driver to help the team. I am preparing for 2024. My dream is to be in F1 – to be world champion.”


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