Theo Pourchaire says the 2022 Formula 2 season will be his last, so that leaves Alfa Romeo with a crucial decision to make.
Pourchaire has established himself as one of the most exciting junior prospects on the ladder to Formula 1, debuting in F2 just a month after turning 17.
2021 marked his first full campaign in the series, the Frenchman picking up two wins as he made himself a contender to step up to the Alfa Romeo team in Formula 1, with Pourchaire affiliated to Sauber’s driver programme, operator of Alfa Romeo.
But, Alfa Romeo would go with Zhou Guanyu, team boss Frederic Vasseur tasking Pourchaire with winning the 2022 F2 title. And he is very much in the mix.
Zhou or Pourchaire for Alfa Romeo next year?
Alfa Romeo have a decision to make about whether to stick with Zhou Guanyu, or promote Theo Pourchaire from their academy.
Pourchaire currently sits P2 in the standings, 21 points behind leader Felipe Drugovich after three race wins and a further four P2 finishes.
If Pourchaire was to win the title, then the rules dictate that he could not return to the series in the future. But regardless, he has confirmed that he will not be a Formula 2 driver in 2023 anyway.
“This is my last season in FIA F2 for sure,” he told France Racing. “I won’t do another season.
“Financially, it won’t be possible. It’s not a good solution. Two seasons in a championship is enough for a driver.
“If I don’t go to F1, I don’t know what I will do. We haven’t thought about that with my entourage. We will see. There may be several opportunities. I have four races left in FIA F2, that’s all I know. The rest, we’ll see.”
Formula 1 though very much remains the dream for Pourchaire, even if he does already see making it to F2 as a great achievement.
“I don’t think about F1 at all! It remains a dream for me,” he stated. “I’m happy to be driving in FIA F2 already. When I look back at my career and where I come from, I think that driving in FIA F2 is already great. I will see. Maybe one day I’ll get the opportunity, maybe I won’t.
“I don’t know if I’ll be driving in FIA F2, I don’t know if I’m going to drive in free practice, but it’s better this way, I’ll stay focused on my FIA F2 season. If there is an opportunity, I will take it.”
Alfa Romeo would do well to avoid an Oscar Piastri-esque situation by giving Theo Pourchaire his chance in 2023
Pourchaire was one of Piastri’s title rivals when he clinched the 2021 F2 crown, though in reality Piastri was the class of the field in his first crack at F2.
Piastri though found himself on the sidelines at Alpine for 2022, the French outfit putting together a programme to prepare their junior driver for 2023 where it was planned that he would take a seat on the grid.
It looks likely that the Aussie will indeed do that, but not with Alpine in what is one of the strangest ‘silly season’ dramas we have seen.
Alfa Romeo should take this as a warning. It is a straight fight between Zhou Guanyu and Pourchaire to partner Valtteri Bottas for 2023, and Zhou is yet to really prove himself as a driver who Alfa Romeo need to keep around.
When it was announced that Zhou would replace Antonio Giovinazzi, the Italian cited money as a major factor, Alfa Romeo anticipating a nice flow of sponsorship income now that the team had Formula 1’s first full-time Chinese racer onboard. Recently though, Vasseur admitted to this being a slow burner.
The results also have not been fantastic, even if it is Zhou’s rookie season, with five points scored compared to Bottas’ 46.
Zhou then has up to nine races to show Alfa Romeo that he belongs in their line-up, but if there is no clear improvement, it would be hard to justify to Pourchaire why he is not taking Zhou’s place for 2023.