Pourchaire on tough title challenge: ‘I was expecting the rookies to be fast’

The Hungaroring is known by fans as ‘Monaco without walls’ due to a lack of overtaking opportunities but the Formula 2 Feature Race provided some much-needed battling which resulted in title hopeful Théo Pourchaire grabbing his third victory of the season. This has pulled him right back into contention and F1 Feeder Series spoke to the French driver about those title chances.

By Tyler Foster

In a hectic start off the line, it was Marcus Armstrong that stole the lead from rookie polesitter Ayumu Iwasa, with Pourchaire stealing second from the Japanese driver on the first lap.

By lap four, it became clear that Chaoruz’s Enzo Fittipaldi was showing seriously strong pace from sixth place and began his charge. He overtook Vesti for P5, and then took fourth when championship leader Felipe Drugovich pitted early in an attempted undercut. When the leaders pitted on the next lap, Fittipaldi stayed out to extend his stint on the softs. 

Meanwhile, the race leader Armstrong was jumped in the pits by both Pourchaire and Iwasa after being held up by the pair on exit. When Fittipaldi pitted a couple of laps later, he almost took the lead of the race but was passed by Pourchaire, with the Brazilian struggling for tyre temperature on the harder medium compound. This meant that Pourchaire, Fittipaldi and Iwasa held the net podium places.

Budapest Feature Race podium | Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Nothing changed for those three and they finished in that order with Pourchaire winning by 3.6 seconds over Fittipaldi. With this being Fittipaldi’s third P2 in Feature Races so far this year, we asked him after the race just how close he believes he is to a maiden F2 win.

“It’s very close, it’s just a matter of time. I’m sure it will come very soon, we have the pace. I hope very soon in the next round or two we can get a win.”

Drugovich gambles and loses

Championship leader Drugovich struggled towards the end of the race after pitting early and was overtaken by several car in the final few laps before finishing P9. This has allowed Pourchaire to cut the Brazilian’s lead at the top of the standings down to 21 points with four rounds still to go. We spoke to Pourchaire after the race and asked him about his thoughts on the current standings.

“To be honest I don’t know because last year,” said the 18-year-old ART driver, “Oscar [Piastri] was a rookie and he won the championship so I was expecting the rookies to be fast. My teammate [Frederik Vesti] is a very good driver. Ayumu was a good driver in F3 so he’s fast again in F2. We were expecting the rookies to be fast.”

While Pourchaire had a lot of praise for the rookies and for good reason, he also touched on the surprisingly disappointing seasons that some of the more experienced drivers within the F2 paddock have had. 

“For sure, Jüri Vips also Jehan [Deruvala] with Prema, I expected them to be a bit more to the top but I think they will bounce back for sure. I know it’s a bit late, it’s getting difficult but they are good drivers. Liam [Lawson] also, he was very fast last year. This year he is struggling a bit in quali I think, so let’s see. The championship is not finished, it’s still four rounds to go so it’s on.”

Two-horse race

It seems that the title fight is now a two-way battle between ART’s French wonderkid and MP Motorsport’s experienced Brazilian. Following the busy month of July, where we have had four race weekends in the space of five weeks, we now have the ‘Summer break’ of just under a month. We will return to F2 on the 27th August at Spa, with this being the first part of a triple-header also including Zandvoort and Monza. 

With such historic, legendary circuits being back-to-back-to-back, the racing promises to be a spectacle. Finally, we asked Pourchaire just how dramatic having this historic triple-header was right at the end of his ever-changing title fight with Drugovich.

“It is very amazing. Very cool tracks, even Abu Dhabi which is far as the very last race but it’s cool tracks coming in the next few months. Spa is amazing, think we are going to have good races there. Zandvoort; I don’t know the track, the last time I drove there was in 2019, German F4 without the banking, and Monza; I love that track, I won last year so it’s going to be fun but for sure during the holidays I’m going to work as well. Going to do some simulator and getting myself in good shape.”

Header photo credit: Formula Motorsport Limited

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