F1 hopeful lands seat elsewhere after ‘disappointing’ 2024 admission

Thomas Maher
Theo Pourchaire wins the Formula 2 title during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend.

Theo Pourchaire will switch to Formula 2 for 2024, having secured a seat in the Japanese series.

Formula 2 Champion Theo Pourchaire will be racing in Japan in 2024, having secured a seat in Super Formula.

The Sauber-backed Pourchaire, who has served as test and reserve driver for the Alfa Romeo/Sauber team over the past two seasons, was unable to find a way onto the Formula 1 grid for 2024 as the entire field remains unchanged for next season.

Having wrapped up the F2 title in Abu Dhabi after a tense battle with Frederik Vesti, Pourchaire couldn’t continue in the series in 2024 and, instead, has turned to the championship widely regarded as the next best thing to Formula 1.

Theo Pourchaire jumps to Super Formula for 2024

The French driver has put pen to paper to race in the Japanese domestic series Super Formula in 2024, where the cars performance level is somewhere between Formula 2 and Formula 1.

Pourchaire has signed with Itochu Enex Team Impul, where he’ll race beside Yuji Kunimoto next season. Pourchaire will be hoping to impress in the series in the same way that Red Bull-backed Liam Lawson did in 2023, as the Kiwi driver switched to the series and competed for the title.

Speaking at last weekend’s FIA Prize Giving Gala, where he picked up his trophy for becoming Formula 2 Champion, Pourchaire spoke of his excitement at joining the series

“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.”

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Pourchaire will dovetail Super Formula 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.”

With Pourchaire not landing a seat in F1 just yet, the 20-year-old spoke of his disappointment at the lack of opportunities being available to the reigning F2 Champion as he’s the third Champion in a row now to move straight up into the top series.

“I am the third F2 Champion in a row who is not promoted to F1,” he said.

“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.”

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