Theo Pourchaire secures the 2023 Formula 2 title ahead of Frederik Vesti

Michelle Foster
Sauber junior Theo Pourchaire is all smiles.

Sauber junior Theo Pourchaire is the 2023 F2 champion.

Theo Pourchaire survived a difficult weekend at the Formula 2 finale in Abu Dhabi to hold off Frederik Vesti to seal the title.

Arriving at the Yas Marina circuit 25 points ahead of his title rival, Pourchaire pipped the Mercedes junior to the crown by a mere 11 points despite having been beaten by Vesti in qualifying, the Sprint race, and the Feature event.

He went into the Feature event on Sunday afternoon, 16 points to the good but five places behind his rival on the grid with Vesti needing to finish on the podium to stand a chance of nabbing the title at the final hurdle.

An intense late-race battle for the F2 title

Opting for different strategies, Pourchaire lined up on the softs with Vesti on the mediums.

The protagonists made up positions on the opening lap as Jack Doohan stormed into the lead. But while Vesti continued to make gains, Pourchaire dropped down the order to run as low as P18 after his pit stop.

Meanwhile, Vesti, yet to stop, worked his way up to second as the pit stops for those ahead played out, the Prema driver told to bang in qualifying laps with Pourchaire working his way back up to 13th.

Midway through the 33-lap feature race, Vesti was up to two points in the live championship standings.

Heading into the final 10 laps, Vesti continued to run second with Pourchaire up to ninth but still outside of the points.

However, Vesti’s pit stop on lap 24 shifted the odds in the Frenchman’s favour he dropped to ninth, Pourchaire ahead for the first time in the race. Vesti, though, was on a fresh soft tyres.

Vesti made the symbolic pass on his championship rival on lap 25 only for Pourchaire to fight back and retake sixth. But the battle, at least on the track, was by no means over with Vesti again overtaking him, again losing out, and again making the pass.

As Doohan, Alpine’s reserve driver, claimed his third race win of the Formula 2 season, Vesti crossed the line in third place having clipped Zane Maloney on the final lap. It, though, wasn’t enough to beat Pourchaire who finished P5 to win the Formula 2 title.

An emotional Pourchaire took the title by 11 points, the 20-year-old now dreaming of a Formula 1 future.

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Theo Pourchaire confirmed as Sauber reserve, but it’s ‘not enough’

Next season Pourchaire will be Sauber’s reserve driver, but at present there’s no talk of him racing in another series.

“We are already planning ahead with those around me,” he told RMC Sports. “I will still be a reserve driver for Alfa Romeo. It’s good but for me it’s not enough, I’ve already told them.

“I want to drive, I’m young, I know I have the abilities to go further in this sport. Staying on the sidelines for a year doing simulators and a few tests in F1, I think it’s not enough.

“I have to maintain my physical condition and my qualities as a driver: stress management, managing a weekend… It’s such a technical and complicated sport that I want to continue doing it as much as possible at a high level.

“There are championships in which I could do it, we are in discussion. I hope to have the opportunity to drive, that feeling of having a season and fighting for something.

“Endurance is a very nice championship, but for me it is not the objective because it is not something that would bring me closer to F1.

“I would like to do something that prepares me to go to Formula 1 in 2025, because I think I have the ability and I think I deserve my chance. I will do everything to try to create this opportunity for myself.”

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