Pourchaire closing in on FP1 opportunity

Henry Valantine
Theo Pourchaire celebrates. Imola April 2022.

Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur confirmed he’s looking to find a “solution” which will enable Theo Pourchaire to run in FP1 for the team this season.

The sport’s regulations highlight two mandatory free practice sessions which must be allocated to a young or reserve driver during the season, but the talented teenager is yet to test the car in practice this year.

Pourchaire, a member of the Sauber Academy, is hotly tipped for a Formula 1 seat in the coming seasons, having stepped up to F2 last year aged 17, finishing fifth on his first year in the category.

He currently sits third in this season’s standings, but with the way the schedule has played out between F1 and F2 this year, the Alfa Romeo team boss said the opportunity has not quite been there to get Pourchaire in the car thus far – but that will come in time.

“We will find an FP1 [session] because it’s per regulation that you have to give an FP1 to the rookie,” Vasseur said, as per Formula1.com.

“But when we discuss about it, if you consider when you have the F2 races, we have some events with the sprint races, we will have some events with tyre testing.

“And you can’t imagine [giving] the rookie session to Singapore, even Suzuka will be difficult, even if I think that Max [Verstappen] did it a couple of years ago. You don’t have so many races until the end, but we’ll find the solution, don’t worry – by regulation, it’s mandatory.”

Vasseur admitted that it was “too risky” to promote Pourchaire to a race seat in time for this year, with the team instead plumping for Zhou Guanyu to partner Valtteri Bottas in 2022.

But with Zhou’s contract up at the end of the year, Pourchaire remains a candidate to drive alongside Bottas next season.

Zhou’s form has picked up in the course of the past few races after a barren run without points, and the team boss feels he made the correct call in putting the young Chinese driver in for his rookie season.

“The first target was to get to Q2, I think he was in Q2 in race one, he scored points in race one, and then now after mid-season let’s say, he has been able to do Q3 two times in a row, he was even out-qualifying Valtteri,” Vasseur said.

“He scored points again in Montreal, and we had some issues with the reliability, but he would have been able to score points two or three times before.

“I am more than pleased with the results, I am more than pleased with the behaviour of Zhou out of the car with us, and I think it was the perfect choice.”


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