Theo Pourchaire is about to make his FP1 debut. Who he is and how he can get a spot on the 2024 Formula 1 grid.
This weekend at the US Grand Prix in Austin, Texas, Theo Pourchaire will be making his FP1 debut. He will be in the Alfa Romeo seat as part of the new mandatory rookie test runs in F1 this season. He was a contender for the second seat at Alfa Romeo until the team confirmed Zhou Guanyu for another year. So how can Pourchaire keep his Formula 1 dream alive?
Who is Theo Pourchaire?
Pourchaire started racing when he was just seven years old in his home country of France. Then at age 15, he joined the French F4 Championship. Though in his first season he was technically ineligible to win the main championship because of his age. He continued racing at the F4 level and won the ADAC F4 Championship in 2019.
Next, he moved into a full-time seat in Formula 3 ART, finishing second in the Championship in 2020 to future McLaren driver Oscar Piastri. That secured him a seat in F2 the following year, once again driving for ART. Fifth in his first season in Formula 2, Pourchaire entered 2022 as a title contender. Three wins and seven podiums this year will see him finish second in the title race. It seems clear he is ready for a chance in F1, but with limited options what is his best route?
Sauber Academy driver, @TPourchaire, will make his FP1 debut at the US Grand Prix in Austin.
The young Frenchman will take over Valtteri’s C42 as part of the young driver outings mandated by F1 since the beginning of the season.
Full story: https://t.co/yJh378EOwH pic.twitter.com/R8o1BpPvQE
— Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN (@alfaromeoorlen) October 13, 2022
Once again following Piastri
Perhaps his best chance at becoming a full-time F1 driver is to follow Oscar Piastri’s path, just maybe with less drama. First, he should look to become Alfa Romeo’s primary reserve driver for the 2023 season. This integrates him further with the team and gets more in the F1 paddock familiar with him next season. This would prime him perfectly for a spot on the team if Valtteri Bottas or Zhou Guanyu were to leave at the end of the 2023 season. And as we have seen with Piastri, this experience combined with his impressive F2/F3 resume, helps him become an option to other teams should openings come up.
This is especially true when you look at what Alfa Romeo’s Team Principal, Frédéric Vasseur, said at the end of 2021 about Pourchaire,
“He won this season in Monaco but… the car is so complex and we have just six test days before the season – it means that it would have been, from my point of view, too risky, too challenging to do the step now. It’s much better to be focused on the championship in F2 [in 2022] and we will see the future.”
Giving Pourchaire more experience and time with the F1 team is his best opportunity to move to the full-time driver. Patience and positioning are key, as both Nyck de Vries and Oscar Piastri have recently shown.