Hinwil, 8 June 2023 – It was a busy month on and off track for the Sauber Academy drivers, who kept up with the good performances shown in the past months: there were wins and podiums, as they carried the name of the Sauber Academy all over Europe.
With the Imola round of the Formula 2 Championship not going forward, due to the floods that affected the Emilia-Romagna region, Théo Pourchaire resumed his 2023 campaign in the legendary streets of Monaco, back where he made history in 2021 by becoming Formula 2’s youngest-ever pole sitter and race winner. To better accommodate the narrow track stretching around the Principality, Qualifying was split into two groups of 11, with the young Frenchman setting his best time at 1:21.105 and thus claiming P3 in the aggregate timetable. Lining up in eighth place on the reversed grid for Saturday’s Sprint, Théo managed to maintain his position throughout the whole race, thus adding one point to the scoreboard but losing the championship lead to Ayumu Iwasa. Starting from the second row on Sunday, the young Frenchman defended from Jack Doohan going into Turn 1, keeping a hold onto his third position for most of the race and eventually crossing the line second after Victor Martins, in front, was handed a drive-through penalty. With Frederik Vesti claiming the top step of the podium and moving up to the top of the Drivers’ Championship with 89 points to his name, Théo still managed to remain within short distance, just five lengths behind the Dane.
Action resumed the following week, at the Circuit of Barcelona-Catalunya, where Théo claimed the fifth spot ahead of Sunday; he then received a three-place grid penalty for having potentially impeded Dennis Hauger during Qualifying, which dropped him from sixth on the Sprint Race reversed grid to ninth. The French driver was undeterred, and climbed his way back up the grid in a superb recovery race, moving up to P2 following a late Safety Car restart in the final laps, just behind Vesti. Sunday’s Feature Race saw Théo battling his way throughout the race following a good start, ultimately finishing P7, still collecting vital points to keep up the challenge to Vesti, leaving Barcelona eleven points behind the Championship leader. Théo will resume his simulator duties later this month, as part of his role of reserve driver for Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake, before heading to Spielberg for the next Formula 2 round.
A few weeks before Formula 2, it was F1 Academy’s turn to run on the hills of Montmeló, with Léna Bühler claiming P2 and a brilliant pole position in the first and second qualifying sessions respectively. As the lights went out for Race 1, Léna brilliantly overtook Emely de Heus for the lead, swiftly building almost a one-second gap by the end of lap one. The Swiss driver went on to extend her gap from contenders behind her before heartbreak struck with just three laps to go: Léna suffered a mechanical issue, which forced her to stop at the side of the track, as De Heus inherited her race lead. Lining up P7 on the grid for Race 2, Léna’s intention was to quickly bounce back, putting Abbi Pulling under pressure from the start while defending from Hamda Al Qubaisi. The Swiss eventually finished the race in fourth place, just tenths away from the podium – and returning right away to a points finish. The job wasn’t done, yet, and competition resumed the following day for the third and final race of the round: aiming to convert her pole position into a maiden win, Léna executed a perfect start, keeping clear of Hamda Al Qubaisi and Marta García. Maintaining the lead for the entirety of the race, Léna dashed to the chequered flag, conquering the top step of the podium for the first time, with the points collected over the weekend granting her a move up to third place in the standings. F1 Academy will head to MotorLand Aragón for two days of testing in mid-June before returning to racing towards the end of the month in Zandvoort.
Held on the same weekend and location as F1 Academy was the second round of the Formula Regional European Championship: Marcus Amand headed out on track in Barcelona for a collective test day on Friday, before getting started with the race weekend on Saturday. The French-Finnish driver endured a tough weekend in Spain, as he collected 22nd and 20th place respectively in the two races of the round.
Taym Saleh headed to Třinec, in Czechia, in late May, for the second round of the OK-J European Championship. The German karter managed to nail a Top 20 finish, fighting good battles on track over the weekend and showing further improvement in his race pace, as a proof of the hard work put in in the earlier part of the season – maintaining his fifth place in the standings. The Sauber Karting Team driver returned behind the wheel in Rødby, Denmark, for Round 3 of the Champions of the Future Euro Series, kicking off activities with a solid P22 in Qualifying. Taym went on to claim P13 and a P6 in the races, which saw him making his way through the pack with a few superb moves.
As we head into summertime, the four Sauber Academy drivers will keep up with their packed schedules on and off the track, always aiming to move further and improve themselves in their respective championships.