Pouchaire sings La Marseillaise with home crowd: ‘I will keep that forever’

F1 Feeder Series spoke to Théo Pourchaire after the Feature Race to discuss what it meant to him to stand on the podium as a proud Frenchman to be able to share it with his home crowd.

By Tyler Foster

It was French delight for the home crowd and Théo Pourchaire last weekend following Round 9 of the Formula 2 campaign at Circuit Paul Ricard. With the victor of Sunday’s Feature Race being DAMS driver Ayumu Iwasa, and both ART drivers also joining for an all French team podium, it marked a day of celebration for French motorsport fans.

In Memoriam

After Pourchaire rose from sixth on the grid in Saturday’s Sprint Race to grab the final spot on the podium with some aggressive manoeuvres, he dedicated his performance to the late Anthoine Hubert; the last French driver in Formula 2 to be on the podium in France when he won the Sprint Race at Paul Ricard back in 2019. 

“We everyday miss Anthoine for sure. I remember I was in Formula 4 and I was watching the race on TV in 2019. I came here [to Paul Ricard] on Saturday, I was on the grid, I saw him. We are all thinking about Anthoine I think, and also about Jules Bianchi. Both French drivers. We will miss them. I’m proud to be on the podium today and I can dedicate it for him.

Unfortunately, Pourchaire was given a post-race five-second time penalty for pushing Marcus Armstrong off the track in his move for P3 in the Sprint Race and dropped off the podium down to P7. The Sauber Academy driver remained upbeat that he could replicate his performance in the longer Feature Race on Sunday and once again celebrate on the podium in front of his home fans.

French Feature Race Frenzy

Starting sixth on the grid, with his ART teammate Frederik Vesti ahead on the front-row in P2, Pourchaire started strongly gaining a place. After pitting early on lap 10, Pourchaire was able to jump up a position to fourth. By pitting earlier, it gave him the chance to attack those who came out on cold hard tyres. This led to overtakes on both Doohan and his teammate Vesti for P2. Doohan looked racy, his advances were cut short by a spin which led to Iwasa, Pourchaire and Vesti finishing in the top three. 

This result meant that both DAMS and ART, two French teams, had all of their drivers in the points, with Iwasa’s teammate Roy Nissany finishing P9. If that wasn’t enough, the only other French driver in F2 this season, MP Motorsport’s Clément Novalak, also scored points having finished P8 in the Feature Race. 

Pourchaire in front of his home crowd | Credit: Dutch Photo Agency

Not only was this a combined ART 2-3 and a DAMS win on French soil; not only was this redemption for Pourchaire after his time penalty on Saturday, but this was the first victory for DAMS since their new management led by ex-F1 driver Charles Pic. 

“It’s good, they [DAMS and ART] are both French teams”, said Pourchaire after the Feature Race, “Both really competitive teams and legendary teams as well.”

Pourchaire sings with the crowd

If this wasn’t enough, a moment of pure patriotism occurred straight after the race, both ART and DAMS mechanics embracing each other to the chorus of the French national anthem sung loudly by both the home fans and those on the grid alike. With Pourchaire pulling up to his spot on the grid behind the P3 board, he removed himself from his ART to join a DAMS engineer arm-in-arm while signing La Marseillaise. It is even more significant as reports circulate the French GP is possibly being lost to the future F1/F2/F3 calendars.

Speaking to Pourchaire after the race, we asked the Frenchman how emotional of a moment it was to share with the fans.

“I was surprised because I was celebrating and recovering a bit from the race, and they [the French fans] started to sing the national anthem. I saw there was all the DAMS mechanics and the ART mechanics. It was very good because all the fans were signing as well. It’s amazing the emotions, I will keep that forever. I think it was the first time we saw that in Formula 2.”

Header photo credit: Dutch Photo Agency

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