After major speculation surrounding his possible graduation to Formula One for next season, Théo Pourchaire increased his stock even further with a spectacular victory in the first F2 sprint race of the weekend at Monza.
By Tyler Foster
“It was a great race for me. I started P4. The start was not so bad, I kept my position. After that, I did some great overtakes. The pace was amazing, I was quite surprised by that. Qualifying yesterday was a bit messy and we were not in a good position. We have shown that the pace is there but we need to do it again in race two later on.”
“From the start of the weekend we were one of the fastest teams. My teammate yesterday did a purple sector two, which is the only sector without a slipstream. I tried to have a slipstream in qualifying which didn’t work out for me and I got P7, but I think we were really fast from yesterday. Throughout the debrief with the team we were extremely confident. After doing some mistakes in qualifying it was just about showing that pace in the race.”
Managing the race
While showing rapid pace throughout, a number of VSC and Safety Car periods halted his progress up the field. When speaking to selected media including F1 Feeder Series after the race, Pourchaire was asked how he managed through these tough moments and sustained his lead.
“It was really difficult to warm up the brakes and the tyres after each safety car restart. I think I did quite a good job at that. I was maybe a bit too careful at the beginning where Lawson tried to overtake me. It’s not easy on a track like Monza where you need to have good brakes and good tyre temperature, but it is the same for everyone.”
“I was pushing all the time but then the last five laps, where my engineer told me I had a five second gap, I was not pushing like I was at the start. In the beginning you need to push at Monza as there is not high degradation, so you can push at the exit of the chicanes and in the high-speed corners.”
Maximising the results
For the Sauber Academy Driver, he has shown pace and consistency throughout the year so far. However, this is his second trip to the podium of the Formula 2 season and with both resulting in him being on the top step, he spoke about how he maximises the result in these races.
“My first victory in Monaco was mainly because of my pole position but today I took a good start. I was then the fastest car on track and made some good overtakes; especially the one without the DRS on Jüri Vips for the lead. After that we just did qualifying laps in the free air and it was perfect.”
For Pourchaire, this victory could not have come at a better time. The French 18-year-old is being touted as the next possible young star for the Alfa Romeo Formula One Team and is under heavy consideration to fill their currently vacant seat for next season. He was asked whether he thought that this victory would play a part in the decision by Alfa Romeo Team Principal, Frédéric Vasseur.
“It is difficult to know, but I think the best person to ask is the boss of Alfa Romeo Racing F1 Team. Me, I am just a Formula 2 racer. At the moment I just want to win races like the one today. I take so much pleasure from winning races like that, doing lots of overtakes. I’m happy to be in Formula 2 and for the future I don’t care so much.”
“I always have pressure as it is F2. It is important as I want to win but there is no extra pressure due to the rumours of my name in Formula 1. I just have the classic pressure of a driver.”
After two podiums last year at Monza in the FIA Formula 3 Championship, Pourchaire seems to enjoy his time at the ‘Temple of Speed’. He spoke about whether this was just a coincidence, or if he did consider Monza a personal favourite.
“It is certainly one of my favourite European tracks. Monza and Silverstone are my two favourites. The races are so good because you can overtake so there is a lot of action. The only bad point is the qualifying which every year is dangerous and tricky because everyone wants the slipstream.”
With Pourchaire starting P7 on the grid for the Feature Race on Sunday, if his pace continues to shine through the rest of the field, he will surely be a contender for another large points haul.
“The other teams will improve so we have to work. I’m confident and we have to stay focused on the next races.”
The Formula 2 Feature Race starts at 10:25 CEST (9:25 BST) on Sunday morning.
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