Theo Pourchaire is finally a Formula 2 champion, after the Frenchman held off Frederik Vesti‘s charge in Abu Dhabi to claim a title three years in the making.
Pourchaire didn’t make it easy for himself, stepping out of an Alfa Romeo F1 car straight into his ART he could only manage a lowly 14th in qualifying while Vesti hauled himself into 9th.
That meant he started on the front row of Saturday’s sprint race and the Dane took full advantage, he got bullied somewhat at the start and dropped to fourth but fought his way back to take victory with the fastest lap.
Pourchaire‘s two points in the sprint meant Vesti needed to outscore his rival by 16 points to wrestle the title away, and he gave it all battling up to a podium in the feature.
But Pourchaire wasn’t going to be denied, and claimed fifth place to secure the championship by 11 points.
Steady but certainly not slow
It’s been a long time coming for Pourchaire, who burst into F2 aged a tender 16 as one of the very hottest properties in junior racing.
Pourchaire finished fifth in his debut season – just two years after graduating F4 – and entered 2022 as favourite, but finished over 100 points behind runaway champion Felipe Drugovich.
Pourchaire‘s always had blinding speed but he’s shown a new level of maturity in 2023, not losing his cool after a frustrating early season that saw four non-scores including three retirements in the first seven races.
But third place in the Azerbaijan feature race provided the springboard for a sensational resurgence ahead of the summer break, as Pourchaire only finished outside the top eight once.
He’s only taken one victory in 2023 but his 10 podiums display the ruthless consistency that’s formed the backbone of this championship victory.
Don’t conflate that with dullness though, much of Pourchaire‘s success has come from battling performances into the top five or beyond in reverse grid races.
By contrast, Vesti has taken five wins and led for much of the season but a run of just one points finish in five before arriving in Abu Dhabi derailed his title charge.