Theo Pourchaire set for F1 practice debut and becomes Alfa Romeo reserve

Thomas Maher
Theo Pourchaire testing for Alfa Romeo in 2021. Budapest, August 2021.

Formula 2 racer Theo Pourchaire will get his first taste of F1 weekend action next weekend at the United States Grand Prix.

French driver Theo Pourchaire has been called into action for Alfa Romeo, with the Formula 2 race winner making his first practice debut at the Circuit of the Americas.

Pourchaire, who is part of the Sauber Academy, will drive Valtteri Bottas’ Alfa Romeo C42 for FP1 at the United States Grand Prix, as the team carry out the first of their mandatory two junior FP1 sessions – a rule introduced for 2022 means all teams must run a junior driver(s) (someone classified as having done two Grands Prix or fewer) for two FP1 sessions during the season.

Pourchaire has carried out a test for Alfa Romeo before, having driven a 2019 C38 during a test day at the Hungaroring last summer.

In his second year racing in F2, Pourchaire is currently placed second in the standings – he’s won three races this year, and has been rewarded with a reserve role with the Alfa F1 team next season.

Alfa Romeo full of praise for Theo Pourchaire

Theo has been delivering great performances over the course of this season, as well as during the previous years,” said Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur.

“We have been working closely with him for almost four years now, as a member of our Academy, and we have been impressed by his constant progress and development as a driver first and, equally importantly, as a person.

“We are delighted to give him his first free practice outing next week: it’s a well-deserved opportunity, and I’m confident he will once again impress us with his performances, as he will help the team gather valuable data ahead of the United States Grand Prix.”

The young Frenchman said it’s a moment he’s been anticipating for a long time.

I am thrilled to be making my Free Practice debut in Austin; it will be my second time behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car,” Pourchaire said.

“But, in some ways, it will feel like it’s the first time, as this time it will be during an official Grand Prix session.

“It feels like a dream coming true, and I want to thank Alfa Romeo F1 Team for putting their trust in me and granting me this amazing opportunity: I am looking forward to being on track, and I will make sure to get the most out of it and to do my best to support the team as they prepare for the United States Grand Prix.”

F1 prospects for Theo Pourchaire

With Pourchaire signed up to Sauber’s Academy, as opposed to a direct involvement with Alfa Romeo, the departure of the Italian marque at the conclusion of the 2023 season won’t have any material effect on Pourchaire’s future.

With a reserve role in hand for 2023 and, presumably, testing time on the way during next season, Pourchaire is positioning himself nicely for a possible role in 2024 should the Sauber team opt against replacing either Valtteri Bottas or Zhou Guanyu – both drivers’ contracts come to an end at the conclusion of the 2023 season.

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