The 2023 Formula 2 title was Théo Pourchaire’s to lose, but the Frenchman wasn’t taking anything for granted at the season finale in Yas Marina. Whilst duelling with title rival Frederik Vesti, their battle went down to the wire, but ultimately, it was Pourchaire and ART Grand Prix who covered themselves in glory – securing the triple of the Drivers’ and Teams’ titles along with Victor Martins’ Rookie of the Year honours.
Savouring every moment of his final weekend on the Road to F1, the Sauber junior takes us through a weekend he’ll never forget. On the backfoot after Qualifying, Pourchaire put on one last show to get the fairytale ending he’s been dreaming of.
“Free Practice was pretty good because I finished P3. I was leading all of Free Practice, I just did some mistakes on the last few laps, but overall, the performance was great because my teammate was the fastest and with me in P3. It’s a great comeback after two and a half months without driving. I enjoyed the Practice session a lot and the performance was great.”
“Quali was a bit difficult because I was really tired after driving in Free Practice in F2 and FP1 in F1. There was just half an hour between the end of FP1 and the beginning of F2 Qualifying. Overall, I’m happy with my day, but in Quali we finished P14. I didn’t drive very, very well and we had a small issue on the car.
“There was a water leak, so we lost a bit of performance with the straight-line speed and then we had to change the engine and some other parts because I almost broke the engine. So, we had to change everything for the Sprint Race, but overall, a bit disappointed as Vesti finished in the top 10.
“Just after Qualifying to be honest, I was a bit disappointed. I was sitting in the garage with my helmet on and I was just not very happy. Then afterwards, everyone was pushing me, all the team were pushing me to focus to come back from a tough Qualifying and focus on the Sprint Race. I didn’t lose anything at that time, I was still leading the Championship by 25 points, but I knew Vesti was going to start from P2 in the Sprint and in front of me in the Feature.
“Tough, tough, tough! With Vesti starting from P2, I was sure he was going to win. I was hoping for him to be in a bit more trouble. I saw he was P4 after the first lap, so I was hoping for him to be in a bit of trouble with the others and to hope for a victory for another driver to take the points from him, but he did the job.
“All season, this was his main and strongest point in my opinion. He wasn’t always very, very good in Quali, he was always in the top 10, but he was maximising the reverse grids. It was a great job for him and from my side, I finished P7 starting from P14, so it was great to score.”
“Very, very stressful, but I knew I was capable of doing it because all season long I was strong. I was the Championship leader; I was driving well all season and we had great pace. My teammate did a great Qualifying and the race pace was good. We knew that ART was really strong this season, so I just had to start well, avoid any contact and do my race.
“That’s what I did and I’m very happy about it. I defended well against Fred and I did some good overtakes, good strategy by the team, a good pit stop by the mechanics and in the end, we finished P5 from P14. To be honest, the most important thing is that we won both titles at the end, it’s amazing. The race was really good, from P14 on the grid to finish P5 is a great performance. I’m really happy, I did the job and we finished our story together with ART in the best way possible.
“I will remember this moment forever. I was still not 100% sure I was going to win the title. I’m always like this, I want to be 100% sure because it’s very stressful and it’s my life – motorsport is my life. I wanted to be sure and my engineer just screamed on the radio ‘Théo Pourchaire you are the new FIA Formula 2 Champion’ and straightaway I cried.
“That was really quick, as soon he said that and I was crying. I was on the radio crying like a baby, thanking all the team because it was an amazing journey together and we finished it in the best way possible.”
“It’s been four years of my life in the best feeder series in the world. Formula 3 and Formula 2, that’s where you have to race if you want to one day race in F1. They’re clearly the best categories in the world where the best young prospects are driving. I drove with drivers like Logan Sargeant, Oscar Piastri and Zhou Guanyu and they are all in F1 today. It just proves that the level was crazy in my four years in F3 and F2.
“I enjoyed it! There were a lot of downs, but a lot of ups as well and amazing memories for my whole life. In four years with ART, I learnt so much with them. It’s a family now and we’ll be forever together. Now we have a title in common and this is crazy, crazy to be French and to win with them and to win Formula 2.
“You have the Formula 1 World Championship and then just after that for me, you have the Formula 2 Championship. I’m that close to reaching my dream and Formula 2 offered me the possibility to show myself and prove myself. I’ll be forever thankful to the organisation, it’s amazing!”