A busy, successful start of the year for Sauber Academy
The start of the 2021 season has been a hectic one for the Sauber Academy inductees, who have been battling on many fronts as they aim to stake their claims to successful campaigns in their series.
With the quality of our squad spread across a wide range of series, we’re aiming to round-up the results of the Sauber youngsters as we approach the hot months of summer.
Théo Pourchaire – FIA F2 Championship
One of the brightest stars to come up through the junior rankings, Théo Pourchaire made the step up to the FIA Formula 2 championship this season with ART Grand Prix, having narrowly missed out on Formula 3 glory in 2020. The 17-year-old has made an exciting start to his time in the Formula 1 feeder series to sit sixth in the drivers’ standings after three rounds.
The season began at the Bahrain International Circuit in March, the debut of the new three-race format. In his first F2 qualifying, Théo set the tenth fastest time of the session. With the new format dictating that the first of the sprint races would see the top ten from qualifying reversed, the Frenchman would line up on pole for his debut.
A loss of power meant he would be forced to retire, but a spirited drive from 19th to sixth in the second sprint race would earn Pourchaire a well-deserved first points finish in the championship. He would again rise during the feature race, gaining two spots to eighth and taking eight points from the weekend.
At the second round in Monaco – Théo’s first visit to the Principality – the Sauber Academy driver would demonstrate just why he is considered so special. After running in the first of two qualifying groups, he would set the fastest time overall to clinch pole position and the four points that come with it.
Seventh in the first reverse grid race would continue his points scoring run, whilst an assured drive in the wet second sprint would claim fourth on the road. But from pole in the feature race, Pourchaire would display supreme skill to take his first F2 victory by two seconds over former F3 rival Oscar Piastri.
At the time, Pourchaire said: “I won the Monaco Feature Race and I feel so happy. The team did an incredible job, and the car was amazing. I was under pressure for around 20 laps, but then I was just really, really fast. We did a really good strategy, and yeah, we won at Monaco. I cannot believe it, I am so happy.”
The 39 points gathered on the streets of Monaco had elevated Pourchaire to third in the standings but Baku would prove to be a difficult weekend. After qualifying a solid fourth and finishing fifth in the first of the sprint races, an incident in the second race would leave the Frenchman pointless. A first lap collision in the feature race left Pourchaire with a broken wrist, and while his participation in the next round in Silverstone should be assured, it meant he enters round four in sixth place in the standings despite his excellent performances so far.
Juan Manuel Correa – FIA F3 Championship
A returnee to the Sauber Academy, FIA F3 driver Juan Manuel Correa has completed his comeback to racing after recovering from horrific injuries sustained in the 2019 F2 crash at Spa Francorchamps that threatened to cut short his career. His courage shown in reaching the motorsport stage again has been incredible, and Sauber has reached out to welcome Correa back onto the Academy roster.
During round one of the 2021 F3 season, Correa reached the points during the second race by finishing tenth, proving he had not lost his cutting edge. 15th and 14th in races one and three were his other results at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
At round two at Paul Ricard, Correa was in impressive form, pulling off multiple overtaking moves to finish sixth and ninth in races one and three at the French event. The points accrued meant the Ecuadorian-American driver went up to 15th in the standings, a position that would change to 18th following a more challenging round in Austria, with a lone point for 10th place in race one added to the tally.
Most importantly, Juan Manuel has shown an incredible progression since his return behind the steering wheel, which gives good promise after more than one and a half year away from racing.
Emerson Fittipaldi Jr – Danish Formula 4 Championship
Emerson Fittipaldi Jr made the step into single-seater racing with participation in the Danish Formula 4 championship with the support of the Sauber Academy. The son of two-time Formula 1 world champion, Emerson Fittipaldi Sr., he competes with the FSP Racing squad and has so far completed two rounds of the series, sitting sixth in the standings with mixed fortunes stopping the 14-year-old Brazilian from achieving the results he has deserved.
Fittipaldi Jr earned a single point on debut at Padborg Park despite retiring from race one, but recovered to finish fourth in race two to add 12 points to his tally. Race three earned Fittipaldi Jr his first single-seater podium with third place.
The second round of the championship at Sturup Raceway in Sweden was cancelled, meaning the next round would take place at the same Padborg Park venue. Fittipaldi impressed to take his first pole position, although contact with Juju Noda meant he would fail to finish the first race of the event. Once again, the Brazilian would show fine composure to fight back and collect vital points for fifth in race two before again standing on the podium after race three, with second representative of the speed shown across the two weekends.
There are four rounds remaining in the Danish F4 season, with the next not until the end of August at FDM Jyllandsringen, with Fittipaldi Jr balancing his commitments in the series with his OK Karting campaign.