Sauber Academy reflects on a successful season of racing, with its 2023 lineup, made of Théo Pourchaire, Léna Bühler, Marcus Amand, and Taym Saleh, collecting podiums and outstanding results throughout their respective campaigns.
Frenchman Théo Pourchaire, the longest-standing member of the Sauber driver development program, having first been inducted upon its introduction in 2020, made his intention to go for the title clear when he claimed pole position and a dominant Feature Race win at the opening round of the 2023 FIA Formula 2 Championship in Bahrain.
The young Frenchman, in his third season in the series, enjoyed a consistent campaign, collecting one win, ten podiums, and three pole positions overall. Despite a few setbacks throughout the year, the talented Frenchman always managed to quickly bounce back, showing his impressive speed and race craft, and getting to the final event of the season with a 25-points gap over championship rival, Frederik Vesti. The title showdown was never going to be an easy one, but Théo kept his head down, fully focusing on the target. It all came down to the final Feature Race of the season on Sunday; Théo charged through the field as he recovered from a less-than-ideal starting position, eventually finishing fifth – with Vesti’s third place not being enough for him to overtake the Sauber driver in the standings. On a historic day for the young Frenchman and for Sauber Academy alike, Théo was crowned FIA Formula 2 Champion – the deserved ending to a stellar 2023 campaign. On top of his Formula 2 activities, throughout the season Théo also served in his Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake reserve driver duties, supporting the race team with crucial data from the simulator sessions, as well as getting two proper outings on the C43 at the Mexican and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix.
Léna Bühler, the first female driver to be inducted in the Sauber Academy, lined up on the grid of the inaugural F1 Academy season. The Swiss racer, with a successful background in BMX and karting, kicked off her year in the Formula 4 UAE Championship before quickly adapting to the new challenge. It indeed didn’t take much for Léna to show her speed and potential, as she climbed up the standings collecting several podium finishes – including two race wins. Finishing the season as runner-up to the title behind Marta García, Léna enjoyed a successful campaign, eventually setting the record for most podiums in a season with 13 overall.
French-Finnish racer, Marcus Amand, made his debut in the 2023 Formula Regional European Championship. Despite a tough first part of the season, the young driver succeeded in turning his luck around, enjoying a stellar weekend in Monza – with pole position and second place. Marcus stepped on the podium once more in Zandvoort, at the second-to-last round of the season, finishing again in second place, concluding a challenging, yet formative campaign of learnings.
Taym Saleh, flying the flag of the Sauber Karting Team, enjoyed a busy yet positive season, which saw him travelling all over Europe. The young German showed his promising speed and skills throughout his campaign, consistently placing himself in the top 20 and collecting podiums and important points. It all came down to Naples, Italy, where Taym put up some of his best performances of the season, charging through the field up to fifth place, ultimately clinching second place in the OK-Junior category, just five points behind championship winner Iacopo Martinese. That wasn’t it for the young karter, who subsequently made the step to the OK category, debuting at the South Garda Karting track in Lonato – feeling at ease straight away in the new environment.
It’s been quite the season for the Sauber Academy drivers, who each truly give their all out in their respective campaigns; with podiums, wins, and pole positions, two runner-up places in the standing and an extraordinary title win, 2023 has been Sauber Academy’s most successful year to date since its founding. Now, some well-deserved rest awaits the drivers, before getting back to work with the aim of doing even better in 2024.
Beat Zehnder, Sauber Motorsport Sporting Director: “It’s been an incredible season for all our drivers, and I want to take a moment to truly acknowledge and appreciate their tireless work throughout the year, both on and off the track. Raising the champions of tomorrow has always been Sauber Motorsport’s ultimate goal, and this successful season is the proof of that: I am proud of Théo, Léna, Marcus, and Taym for each of their achievements, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for all of them. We head into the winter break now, but work is already underway ahead of 2024, with the goal to come back even stronger.”