Pourchaire surprised by F1 speed on test debut

Henry Valantine
Theo Pourchaire celebrates a Formua 2 victory. Monaco 2021.

Theo Pourchaire celebrates a Formula 2 victory. Monaco 2021.

Teenage starlet Theo Pourchaire admitted he did not expect F1 cars to be as fast as they are after testing one for Alfa Romeo for the first time.

The 17-year-old Formula 2 driver took to the Hungaroring in a 2019 Alfa Romeo a few days after the grand prix in his first experience of getting behind the wheel of a top-tier car.

The Sauber junior completed the required 300km that is a requirement for drivers to apply for an FIA Super Licence, which the teenager will need if he is to make the step up to F1 in the future.

But after making a “dream come true” by driving his first miles in an Alfa C38, it has fuelled his ambition to make the step up to Formula 1 as soon as possible – perhaps even next season.

“I’m still thinking about it, it feels good to have driven in F1,” he told French publication L’Equipe after his test.

“I was obviously expecting it to be very fast, but not that fast. Everything is better than in F2 of course. You brake later and harder, you go through corners much faster thanks to the aero. It’s really very impressive.”

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The F2 driver is going well in this season’s championship overall, having taken victory in the feature race in Monaco and impressing in his ART car this year.

But for issues that have caused two retirements, he has picked up top-10 finishes in every race he has finished so far this season, showing a consistency that is catching the eye in Formula 1.

He turns 18 later in August, which will make him officially eligible to qualify for a Formula 1 drive next season. While he hopes to make the step up for 2022, he trusts the judgement of Alfa Romeo and Sauber as to when will be the best time for him to be on the F1 grid.

“My desire is obviously to move up to F1 next year, but I’m still fully focused on F2 and I have complete confidence in Sauber to make the best choices for me,” he said. “They help me a lot and they have always told me my results in F2 could help me get into F1.

“I will focus on finishing the F2 season in the best possible way and a top-three finish in the championship would be ideal.

“Frederic Vasseur and Beat Zehnder [Alfa Romeo team manager] are analysing my performance in detail and they know exactly what I am worth. I’m sixth in the championship at the moment but they know I’ve had problems.”