Théo Pourchaire left no stone unturned in his quest to climb into the points during today’s tumultuous Sprint Race. Lining up in P12, the ART Grand Prix driver ruthlessly carved his way up the order and made up five places to finish seventh.
This included a jaw-dropping double overtake on Jake Hughes and Dennis Hauger at the apex of Turn 2. Yet his rise ended up being a lot harder than it looked, as Pourchaire admits an error at the start put him on the backfoot, but he remains satisfied with the result.
“A lot happened in that race! I would say it’s more from P14 to P7 because at the start I locked the front tyre and went a bit wide into Turn 1, a little mistake – the only one I made in the race,” he said.
“After that, the pace was really strong. My teammate (Frederik Vesti) won the race and I did some great overtakes. I enjoyed that! It’s not the position I want to finish in, but it was not a bad race and it’s good for tomorrow.”
Starting P12 once again, the Frenchman says his team’s primary weakness at this moment is their Qualifying performance and their key focus going forward needs to be maximising their one-lap pace. While Vesti’s victory might have buoyed the ART team up about their potential heading into tomorrow’s Feature Race, Pourchaire’s being realistic about his expectations.
“We looked strong this morning, but I think in Quali, we’re not good. We’re still not the best. We have to improve the Quali because it was only a Sprint Race - Fred did a very good job.
“For tomorrow, I will start again in P12, it’s a bit far. With the pit stop and all the safety cars, a lot can happen. As always, I jump in the car to win – that’s my only goal. So, I think we can do a great job.”
Although the Championship is only on Round 6, thoughts of the title fight have begun to creep into our two main protagonists’ heads. Felipe Drugovich’s fifth place finish today added four points to his tally, compared to Pourchaire’s two. This has allowed the Brazilian to extend his lead in the Standings to 34 points over the Sauber Academy junior.
Overcoming this won’t be a simple feat, particularly as the Brazilian has only failed to score once so far this season, in the Monte Carlo Sprint Race. Nevertheless, Pourchaire is on a consistent run of form of his own, with seven consecutive points-scoring finishes.
The Frenchman is confident that he can show off those overtaking skills once again to push forward into the top end of the points, especially if the Feature Race turns out to be as action-packed as today’s event.
“Felipe’s also consistent, that’s the problem! Tomorrow, a lot more points are available – at a minimum, a top five finish would be great and with him (Drugovich) finishing behind me.
“We have to work hard to set up the car well. There is the pit stop, and the race is longer so a lot more can happen. It’s great, I enjoy racing in Baku because there are plenty of overtaking opportunities. I think it’s great for the spectators as well!”