Abu Dhabi – Sauber Academy driver, Théo Pourchaire, crowned an incredible season by claiming the FIA F2 Championship title, courtesy of a fine performance that saw him finish fifth in the Feature Race at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The ten points acquired lifted the Frenchman out of the reach of his only rival left in contention, Frederik Vesti, and wrote the Sauber Academy driver’s name in the history books – not just as 2023 FIA F2 Champion, but also as the first-ever Sauber driver to become single-seater Champion.
This triumph is the high mark of a remarkable junior career for Pourchaire, who won his first campaign after karting, claiming the ADAC Formula 4 Championship in 2019 – the first year as a Sauber Academy inductee. Moving up the rungs – consistently as the youngest driver in the field - Théo impressed in FIA F3, challenging for the title down to the wire and finishing runner-up in the standings, before graduating to FIA F2, claiming fifth place in 2021 and second place in 2022.
Throughout these years, the French youngster developed, adding keen racecraft and maturity to his natural, blistering speed – and climbing to the heights of this weekend in Yas Marina, all the while helped and supported by the Sauber Academy.
Théo began his 2023 campaign in Bahrain with a brilliant pole position and a dominant feature race win, a clear testament to his intent to battle for the title. Despite a few setbacks, the Provençal racer always managed to get back to his feet, as the Championship travelled from the sandy sceneries of the Bahrain International Circuit and the glimmering lights of the Jeddah Corniche to a first-ever event Down Under in Melbourne, then through the Old Town of Baku and the traditional, European venues. In such a dynamic, ever-changing series, where the top of the standings could drastically change over a weekend, Théo firmly maintained his grasp on second place through impressive consistency, collecting podium after podium and fundamental points, and showcasing his racecraft with a couple of incredible recovery races which saw him charging through the field into the top three.
The opportunity to move even higher presented itself in Spa-Francorchamps, at the end of July, when then-championship leader Vesti retired from the race due to a spin in the formation lap; Théo maximised his chances, ultimately regaining the lead of the championship at the chequered flag. In the meantime, there was no time off for the Frenchman, who resumed his Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake reserve driver duties between September and October. The extensive simulator work, which provided crucial insight to the race team, was followed up by a proper free practice outing at the Mexican Grand Prix, the first one of the season for the skilled Frenchman. Unfortunately, the session didn’t go as expected, and a technical issue kept Théo in the garage for the majority of FP1; still, the Frenchman didn’t lose his signature ever upbeat mood, and went on supporting the team trackside for the rest of the weekend.
Théo eventually got his chance behind the wheel of the C43, during FP1 in Abu Dhabi. For the young Frenchman, though, the biggest job of the weekend was to be found behind the wheel of his F2 car: and that job is now done.
Théo Pourchaire, Sauber Academy driver and 2023 FIA F2 Champion: “I am so happy and so proud – I did it. I’m FIA Formula 2 Champion and I want to thank the Sauber Academy and ART Grand Prix for being there for me, supporting me throughout all this time. There are so many people who helped me and worked with me throughout this season, and the feeling of sharing this moment with them is amazing. I am speechless, this whole day hasn’t sunk in yet, but it’s true. I am so tired and fulfilled, and all I know is that we did it. Formula 2 Champion – it's done.”
Beat Zehnder, Sauber Motorsport Sporting Director: “Seeing Théo winning the championship is a crowning moment not just for him, but for the whole of Sauber Academy. We are proud and happy to have played a part in his journey, back from his first day with us in 2019, and we are looking forward to the next pages of this story. Théo has always been quick, a natural talent like few, and he was also able to match his ability with a maturity and wisdom that belied his age. On top of his campaign in F2, he’s been an instrumental part of our Formula 1 campaign and an integral part of our team, that is why, today, the whole of Sauber and Alfa Romeo F1 Team Stake are celebrating Théo’s incredible achievement.”