Théo Pourchaire continued his promising start to the season with fifth in the opening Sprint Race at Baku, but only after overcoming a difficult first few laps, with the ART Grand Prix driver suggesting he needs to be a “bit more aggressive.”

The Frenchman was disappointed with his getaway off the line as he failed to get past Dan Ticktum, but then left even more frustrated when Jüri Vips jumped him at a Safety Car restart, with the 17-year-old appearing to struggle with tyre temperature.

Once his tyres were warmed up, Vips wasn’t in front for long as Pourchaire reclaimed the position from the Hitech Grand Prix. The Frenchman then finished the race with a flourish, picking off Marcus Armstrong and Ralph Boschung for fifth, before ending the race with the fastest lap.

“It was a bit of a crazy race with quite a lot of action at the end,” summarized Pourchaire. “The start was not too bad, but I was not super confident on all of the braking zones.

“It was really important to get (ahead of) Jüri because he was not so fast and, at one point, I would have been overtaken by (Felipe) Drugovich behind me. So, I wanted to overtake Jüri, and I did it. It was really important.

Pourchaire finished P5 after two late overtakes

“I was then in a big DRS train and waiting, not taking too much risk because where you finish in this race is important for your starting position in Race 2. At the end, I was the fastest on track, did the fastest lap and finished P5, with some great moves on Armstrong and Boschung, so it was a really nice, fun race.”

Becoming Formula 2’s youngest ever race winner in Round 2 at Monaco, Pourchaire’s P5 finish and bonus points for fastest lap mean he keeps pace with the title fight, sitting second to Guanyu Zhou on 55 points, 23 off the UNI-Virtuosi racer.

During his time on the Road to F1, Pourchaire has proven himself as a quick learner, and the Frenchman said he was able to pick up a lot from the trickier parts of the race. Skills that he hopes will help him to close the gap on Zhou in Sprint Race 2, when he starts from fifth on the reverse grid, ahead of the Chinese driver.

“I learned quite a lot of things,” he continued. “I can improve my starts for one. It was good but it can be better - I struggled a bit on my first few laps.

“I can be a bit more aggressive, keep my position, and if I can do that, then for sure I can get a podium. I hope so anyway, but we will see this afternoon.”