McLaren set to sign highly-rated F1 reserve with crucial retain option for rival team

Michelle Foster
McLaren logo displayed at the 2023 Italian Grand Prix.

The McLaren badge.

From being left out in the cold, Theo Pourchaire is set to have a foot in both the IndyCar and Formula 1 camps with a report claiming he’s about to sign with Arrow McLaren – but Sauber will retain an option on him.

Having won the 2023 Formula 2 championship, Pourchaire’s motor racing dreams were dashed when Sauber opted to retain Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu for this year’s championship instead of prompting their long-time junior.

Theo Pourchaire will reportedly sign with McLaren’s IndyCar team

However, the highly-rated Frenchman was given an opening in IndyCar when Arrow McLaren called him up for Long Beach where he finished an impressive P11, earning him a second outing at Barber Motorsports Park.

Since then Arrow McLaren have dropped the injured David Malukas from their programme after the wrist fracture he sustained in a mountain biking crash turned out to be more serious than initially thought.

The team now needs a permanent replacement with Pourchaire’s recent oval test, one that meant he was given the go-ahead from IndyCar to compete on ovals, said to have secured his future.

But he’ll also still have a foot in Formula 1 with Sauber.

According to L’Equipe, Pourchaire is “about to sign with McLaren on a long-term contract” although Sauber will retain the “option of repatriating him to F1 for simulator needs or in the event that a seat becomes available.”

Last week Sauber confirmed half of their 2025 line up when the team announced Nico Hulkenberg had signed a multi-year deal to join the team that will be rebranded Audi in 2026.

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Theo Pourchaire cleared by IndyCar to race on ovals

Adding fuel to the rumour, Pourchaire had his first taste of IndyCar’s ovals on Monday when he put the No.6 Chevrolet Arrows McLaren through its paces at the World Wide Technology Raceway.

On a rain-interrupted day, the 20-year-old completed 110 laps at the 1.25-mile track with meant IndyCar cleared him to compete on ovals.

“Really happy that I was able to get back behind the wheel of the Arrow McLaren IndyCar, and to have this opportunity again was great,” he said. “And the first time for me on an oval, which was really exciting, I couldn’t wait to feel like to feel the driving on an oval.

“I can say it now it’s really quick, really impressive. You have to be really smooth on the steering wheel, steering inputs, going back on power and you have to be really smooth in the car.

“I’m really happy (but) really tired mentally as well, because it’s going super quick, and you don’t want to do a mistake on a track like this.

“If you do a small mistake you can end up in the wall. And we all know that ending up in the wall in an oval is really dangerous.

“But I enjoyed it. It’s been a pretty good day. The pace was good.”

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