As Formula 1’s door once again was slammed shut on the Formula 2 champion, Théo Pourchaire believes he “deserved” the opportunity to prove his worth on the big stage.
Not since Mick Schumacher in 2020 with Prema Racing has the reigning Formula 2 champion made the swap from winning the title to stepping into a Formula 1 car the very next season.
In the years prior Oscar Piastri and Felipe Drugovich both had to settle for reserve driver roles, a fate that awaits 2023 champion Pourchaire.
‘As F2 Champion, I think I deserved my place’
He, however, is also on course to race in Japan’s Super Formula championship having completed a test in early December.
That, though, is by no means the 20-year-old’s ultimate dream.
Speaking at the FIA prize giving gala, he said as per Motorsport.com: “I am the third F2 Champion in a row who is not promoted to F1.
“Next year, unfortunately, I will not be on the F1 grid, which is obviously a little disappointing, because it’s a dream to be a Formula 1 driver. As F2 Champion, I think I deserved my place, but it is what it is.
“It’s not because you are titled in F2 that you are in F1, but frankly I am disappointed, because I am champion, I have achieved good results, I have done my best.
“The job I was given at the Sauber Academy was to win the championship, and I did that. That’s how it is, I’m just focusing on the future.”
The Frenchman, a long-time Sauber junior and the team’s 2024 Formula 1 reserve driver, is instead expected to race in Super Formula next season as fellow F1 hopeful Liam Lawson did in 2023.
“Super Formula is an excellent category,” Pourchaire said. “It was my first time in Japan this week: the people are amazing, it’s a different culture. The car is fast, the Suzuka circuit is crazy, it goes so fast.
“I spoke with some F1 drivers before going there, and everyone told me that Suzuka was an incredible circuit. It’s clearly one of the most beautiful circuits in the world.
“The Super Formula at Suzuka is an incredible experience, and we’ll see what the future holds for us.
“I would like to make a championship next year. Driving an F1 car in testing is good, but not many teams can offer that. I’m trying to find a place in a good championship, and I think Super Formula is the best option for me.”
He will dovetail that with his Sauber commitments.
“I will be a reserve for Sauber next year so I will do a lot of simulators, probably two free practice sessions, because I am still a rookie.
“Japan is obviously very far from Europe, but the cars are fast: we saw it with Liam Lawson. He had the opportunity to drive in Grand Prix [at AlphaTauri] and he was fast in the car straight away, he scored points.
“So Super Formula is the best option for me. Hopefully I can do some next year and prepare myself for Formula 1 and then have an opportunity there.”