Sauber Academy’s Théo Pourchaire ready for his first full F2 campaign
Formula One is not the only motorsport category returning this weekend, with the FIA F2 Championship also hitting the track for the first round of racing of 2021. Competing in his first full season in F1’s main feeder series is Sauber Academy driver, Théo Pourchaire, who will aim to hit the ground running after an incredible 2020 in which he finished runner-up in F3.
The young Frenchman, 17, will compete for ART Grand Prix, a team with a prestigious heritage in motorsport’s second series: with four GP2 team titles and two F2 accolades, ART knows how to win. These expectations, however, are not cause for pressure for Théo. “As always, I want to win,” he says, before acknowledging the magnitude of the task ahead. “I know it will be very difficult as a rookie and as the youngest on the grid. I will give it my best: I am within a good team in ART, I have the support of the Sauber Academy, of my family as well as of my sponsors. I believe I have all elements in place to have a good season.
“I do not have one clear goal, I only want to learn and improve step by step. If I can win races and fight for the title, I will do it and of course I will give everything in order to achieve it.”
The race in Bahrain will not be the first experience for Théo in F2 machinery, having competed in two rounds at the bottom end of 2020. Those races will prove useful going forward.
“The chance to try the F2 cars in two rounds last year will be very important. It was not easy in terms of performance, as I was towards the back of the grid. In any case, the most important aspect for me was to learn about the car, the track and F2 races as well as the F2 atmosphere. It worked quite well and I am sure it will pay me back during this season. This kind of experience is very important to be ready for the first race. I am sure that it will bring me confidence in the car and will help me.”
Despite his confidence, the Sauber Academy driver doesn’t put too much pressure on himself to produce results at all cost from the beginning.
“I know the first couple of rounds will be difficult, especially against all the second-year and even more experienced drivers. It will be more like a learning process, even if in my mind I want to win: I know that it will not be as easy as in F3. For sure, I will need to work a lot to improve myself race after race. I’ll also need to know new tracks, which will be an additional challenge – but still, I will try to give everything to achieve the best result for me and all those who support me”.
Launched in 2020, the Sauber Academy is designed to lead drivers from the grassroots to the pinnacle of motorsport and nurture the next generation of Formula One drivers. Alongside Théo Pourchaire, Briton Dexter Patterson and Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi Jr. are amongst its inductees.