Theo Pourchaire will remain part of the Alfa Romeo Formula 1 setup for 2024 despite not having a race seat finalised for the season, with Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu still contracted to the team.
Pourchaire leads the F2 standings with one round to go and the series champion is banned from returning the following year, so Alfa Romeo team principal Alessandro Alunni Bravi says Pourchaire could follow Liam Lawson‘s footsteps to Super Formula in Japan.
2024 looks set to be the first season in F1 history with no rookies on the grid, unless Williams replace Logan Sargeant.
“Despite the fact that we confirmed our driver lineup for 2024, he will remain as one of our drivers and we are now looking for him what will be the best racing programme to keep racing shape,” Alunni Bravi told the media.
“But he’s part of our driver lineup, we will have three drivers next year – not two official race drivers and one reserve.
“Super Formula is one opportunity for sure, it’s important for drivers targeting Formula One to race in a single-seater category if possible, and we know that Super Formula together with Formula 2 is the closest feeder category with a good cornering speed.
“So of course, this is an opportunity but we need to evaluate many, many other elements.”
Alfa Romeo praise Pourchaire despite FP1 fiasco
Pourchaire has already done several F1 tests for Alfa Romeo – a programme that would almost certainly continue in 2024 – but his latest outing in the C43 in Mexico City wasn’t quite what he’d hoped for.
The Frenchman’s first F1 appearance of 2023 was effectively over before it began at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, as he made it out of the garage but was unable to set a time due to a brake-by-wire issue on his car.
However, the way the 20-year-old handled that stumbling block further impressed the Alfa Romeo bigwigs.
“Let me pay tribute to him,” Alunni Bravi added. “Because he was expecting this FP1 session all year and he wasn’t able to complete any laps in Mexico because of an issue we had on the car.
“He remained calm on the radio, gave the right indication, precise and concise messages to the team so for me was it positive, this experience for him showed to be mature.
“He will have another opportunity in Abu Dhabi, the second FP1 session and also the rookie test, which he deserves.”
Who is Theo Pourchaire
Arguably the hottest property in junior racing right now, Pourchaire only needs to score 14 points in Abu Dhabi to guarantee a championship he’s been working towards since 2020.
He’s only taken one win all season but has wracked up nine more podiums, while second-placed Frederik Vesti has scored just once in the last five races.
And while that result does cause some future problems for Pourchaire, it’s also a huge commendation on his character as 2023 really was a must-win season for the Frenchman’s third go at the championship.
After a prolific karting career, Pourchaire put his name on the map by winning ADAC F4 in 2019 – the prestigious German championship since won by Ferrari and Mercedes starlets Oliver Bearman and Andrea Kimi Antonelli.
Already a part of the Sauber Academy, Pourchaire stepped up F3 for 2020 then only lost out to Oscar Piastri by three points and showed enough for Alfa Romeo to give him a second promotion in as many years, to F2.
A memorable lights-to-flag victory in Monaco and a very impressive rookie fifth place in the standings showed the hype was justified and Pourchaire was the favourite returning to F2 for 2022.
However, he received one of the first setbacks of his young career as second-season syndrome saw Pourchaire score just seven podiums from 28 races and finish as runner-up but over 100 points behind runaway champion Felipe Drugovich.
He’s put things right in 2023 though. While Vesti initially appeared the F2 pacesetter, Pourchaire‘s been an ever-present at the front of the grid and has only once finished lower than sixth since the start of July.
Making his F3 debut aged just 16, and signing up to an F1 team even before that, it’s hard to underestimate the hyper-pressurised environment (even by racing standards) that Pourchaire‘s grown up in.
But in 2023 he’s shown the maturity to complement the speed that’s been there ever since he stepped in a kart, and it would be a loss to the sport of Formula 1 if Pourchaire never gets chance to display that at the top level.