Pourchaire “disappointed” to be third Formula 2 champion to miss F1 promotion

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Formula 2 champion Theo Pourchaire says he is “disappointed” not to get an opportunity to race in Formula 1 next season.

The Sauber junior driver claimed the F2 championship at the final round in Abu Dhabi, beating Mercedes junior Frederik Vesti to take the title.

However, Pourchaire will not step up into Formula 1 in 2024. He will follow 2021 champion Oscar Piastri and 2022 title winner Felipe Drugovich in failing to secure a place on the F1 grid immediately after winning the second-tier championship.

Speaking at the FIA Prize Giving Gala in Baku where he received his Formula 2 trophy, Pourchaire admitted he was “disappointed” not to have been offered a Formula 1 race seat in 2024.

“I think I’m the third F2 champion in a row to not be promoted to F1,” he said. “Which, it can happen. It’s not because you are an F2 champion that you will have a place in F1.

“But I’m disappointed, to be honest. Because I’m an F2 champion, I did some good results in the past. I did my best. The goal that the Sauber Academy told me was to win the championship – and I did it. So it’s like this.”

Formula 2 champions are barred by rule from competing in the series the following season. After winning the 2021 F2 title, Piastri spent a season as reserve driver at Alpine and privately testing the team’s pre-2022 cars until he was poached by McLaren as a race driver for 2023. Drugovich was signed as the inaugural member of the Aston Martin driver academy and participated in multiple Friday practice sessions for the team.

Pourchaire says he would like to secure a race drive in a series for 2024, such as the Japanese Super Formula championship, which Red Bull junior Liam Lawson competed in and almost won this year.

“For me, I would like to do a championship next year,” Pourchaire said.

“Driving in an F1 car for some testing days – it’s good, but it’s a lot of money and not every Formula 1 team can afford that. So unfortunately I think it will not be the case for me with the Sauber Academy. So I’ll try just to find a place in a good championship. So Super Formula is I think the best option for me.”

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Asked whether his failure to progress into F1 was just bad luck or reflective of a systematic problem with the sport, Pourchaire said “I think it’s a bit of both.”

“It’s a bit of wrong timing, wrong place probably,” he continued. “Because there’s just no space next year in F1.

“Of course I think at the end of 2024 there’s a lot of drivers without a contract, but I will not be racing in F2. That’s why I want to keep racing and show myself to the Formula 1 paddock as well that I’m able to be really fast and that I deserve a place there. So I don’t think there’s a big issue in the system.

“But for sure a Formula 2 champion normally deserves a place in F1, because even if it’s in the third season we saw that Felipe Drugovich I think in FP1 is always really quick. He’s ready to jump in an F1 car. So I think he also deserves a place in F1. But it’s like this. I mean we have to be realistic, and if we don’t have any places, it’s part of motorsport.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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31 comments on “Pourchaire “disappointed” to be third Formula 2 champion to miss F1 promotion”

  1. Theo would be a great addition to F1, he is fun. Sponsors would much prefer him to a lot of the current drivers

    1. He co-commented a lot of the races on Belgian TV this year and did a great job. Really seems like a nice chap.

      1. oh good to know. And it can only help him just being around F1

      2. @paeschli Interestingly, Belgian TV rather than Canal+.

        1. Vlamish instead of French Wallonie?

    2. The FIA system needs to facilitate the F2 winner to automatically move to F1 at the expense of lowest F1 points scorer. Since drivers are contracted with a team it will need some fixes. Say an Alpine jr needs to go from F2 to F1. Ocon is then bumped but takes the place of Sargeant. At RB it is easier since they have 4 seats. Good incentive for other teams to also get a second team, which then delivers more cars om the grid. So thats hardly flawless, but something along these lines. Theoretically we should get a much stronger field then

  2. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    9th December 2023, 13:47

    Should have the Williams second seat, sauber one or haas?

    1. If it’s up to me definitely the williams’ second seat, a close second being the sauber one, I never really got the impression sargeant or zhou were any better than mick schumacher.

      1. Bottas’ seat could use some new blood too. Alonso or Max would have likely seen that car get 7th in the WCC rather than 9th.

        1. Yes, I guess there’s no doubt verstappen or alonso could’ve done much better in that car, however we’re talking about the best drivers around in f1, people who could match or beat hamilton in the same car, and we know how bottas compared with him; I think he was solid overall and no worse than half the grid.

    2. Sauber or nothing – F2’s made even more pointless (as well as the season ending stupidly late) by F1 teams signing up drivers from F3 or lower, and having them drive around in Red Bull, Williams and Alpine colours.

      1. @bullfrog Nothing wrong with ending the seasons on the same weekend as F1.
        If only the pre-event interval weren’t such long.

        1. It’s a so-called feeder series. There might be some F1 drives left in September.

          1. @bullfrog True, but if teams want to sign drivers for the following season early, that’s their right & problem.

        2. I apparently didn’t get ‘interval’ in plural form at the time.

  3. This was always going to be a problem. Most, not all of the F1 drivers are pretty young and hardly likely to be retiring any time soon, and the older ones are still pretty much at the top of their game.

    The days of Minardi etc being on the grid solely to give young blokes a chance whilst being perennial back markers have long gone and F1 is hell bent on making sure it’s gays that way.

    Couple that with the safety these days that doesn’t see drivers being unable to continue due to injury (or worse) and there was never going to be a new seat for the F2 champion every year.

    1. there was never going to be a new seat for the F2 champion every year.

      One of out 20 F1 guys not continuing seems pretty reasonable, and the F2 champion would then be the logical pick to fill that role. But another problem for these champions is that people who perform worse do get promoted to F1. From the class of 2022, it was Lawson (thanks to his Red Bull association) and Sargeant (because… he’s American!?), and in 2021 it was Zhou (because he has formidable financial backing).

      The money required to race in F2 means a lot these guys are not free agents, but rather tied to an F1 team that probably doesn’t have a spot, which limits their options of making the step to F1 even further.

      1. Yup. Logan and Lawson were virtually tied on points. Sometimes it makes sense to promote a non-winner cause they show exceptional speed or something else that makes teams think they’d excel in F1. For example, Montoya struggled in F2 cause his driving style was much more suited to lose cars with too much power.

        1. Also, sometimes champions, like Maldonado and De Vries, won the series in their 4th+ season. While that means you’re an elite driver in the larger motorsport world, it also probably means you don’t have the stuff of a future F1 star. A WEC star maybe.

        2. Nick T., if that is meant to be a reference to Juan Pablo Montoya, then your reference seems to be wildly out for quite a few reasons.

          For a start, during Juan Pablo’s junior career, technically there was no such thing as “Formula 2” – that title had been made redundant a decade before he began racing, and he’d left Formula 1 several years before that title was eventually revived.

          If you meant to say “Formula 3000”, which was the name for the intermediate class between Formula 3 and Formula 1 in that period, that still doesn’t really make sense.

          In his first season in Formula 3000, Juan Pablo finished in 2nd place, with Zonta only narrowly beating him (bearing in mind that Zonta was rated quite highly at the time and was also in his second season in Formula 3000). That was then followed by Juan Pablo winning the 1998 Formula 3000 title – I don’t think you can claim that a driver that finished 2nd in his rookie year and then won the title the following year was “struggling”.

          1. I dare say he was talking about Juan Pablo’s son.

  4. There are more talented drivers in the queue.

  5. Why should he get his drive before Drugovich, for example? And I don’t think that Drugovich deserved it either. Yeah, they won some championship, but only after better drivers had already left. Drugovich is probably in the same class as Zhou, perhaps a touch better, and this guy is probably below that. After all, Drugovich utterly destroyed him last year, and he didn’t seem much better this year (and I don’t think he would be my first pick even from this F2 crop).
    I don’t say that he doesn’t deserve his chance in F1, only that I doubt that he belongs in the top 20, so he shouldn’t be too surprised or disappointed that he’s not there. Sargeant got his chance and we see how that went. Pourchaire is only a little bit faster driver, and he’s probably even more prone to crashing. He’s most definitely more prone to stupid moves on track.

    1. You mention Drugovich only won after better drivers had left.

      That’s how things always go, but I think it does get at a key point. If Formula One teams aren’t willing to hire a rookie based on one good season, they shouldn’t be booted out after one good season either.

      Tweaking that rule could help a lot. Given season timings, it would be better to say you can race one more season after winning, and that’s it.

      Then the likes of Piastri, Drugovich and Pouchaire could bag their wins; go again; and continue to demonstrate sustained pace at the sharp end while negotiating their eventual seat.

      Meanwhile the next up-and-comer would have more competition. Drugovich would have needed to beat post-victory Piastri to win his title; Pouchaire would have needed to beat Drugovich. Teams would be more convinced about how they measure up.

  6. Not very surprising, even if there was an available seat, being the F2 champion by itself is simply not enough.
    The road to becoming F2 champion needs to be exceptional and showcase a drivers potential.
    When the road proves showcases exceptional potential a driver doesn’t even have to become F2 champion, like Lando Norris for example.
    Those drivers that make it to F1 do that often after 1 season of F2.

    F2 drivers that made it to F1, but only after multiple F2 seasons, are often unimpressive in F1. Recent examples are Mick Schumacher, Nyck de Vries, Latifi.

  7. The lack of opportunities is down to teams preferring medium to long-term driver continuity, so only they’re to blame for F2 championships not getting opportunities as easily as they used to, although neither Pourchaire nor Drugovich before him helped their chances by taking unnecessarily long with winning the series & in a relatively weak field.

  8. It seems to me that they tried to rig it as much as possible with the super license to force teams to hire the F2 champion, but it just resulted in teams giving fewer drivers a chance.

  9. Something is seriously wrong when you have a queue of F2 champions twiddling their thumbs waiting for an F1 seat. I see 2 quick fixes available: stop gatekeeping the series by rejecting racing pedigree like Andretti from entering the sport, and conclude the F2 championship in time for F1 teams to make offers for the following year. Sadly, I can’t see any of these things changing.

    1. More teams would help, but I’m not sure Andretti are the answer for hiring more from Formula Two.

      They want an Indycar driver paired with an old hand.

      It’s healthy that they want to investigate other routes in, though the license rules may stall that. But it means for F2, we would need a different new joiner.

    2. I like both your fixes.

      Also, changing the F2 rule so you can race for 1 more year after becoming champion may make it more of a crucible (as you need to beat the previous champion) and also let drivers race while they negotiate their F1 seat.

  10. perhaps they need their own “W” Series (as in “Waiting” for a seat)

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