Théo Pouchaire has admitted that the Formula 2 title is probably over for the 2022 campaign. The ART Grand Prix driver leaves Zandvoort with just a single point added to his tally while main rival and Championship leader Felipe Drugovich added 27 to his tally, along with a fifth victory of the season.
The gap now stands at 70 points, a mountain for Pourchaire to climb if he is to somehow get back into contention with two rounds remaining. Following the Zandvoort Feature Race, he was in a reflective mood, admitting that his realistic chances were all but over.
“In the last two rounds I will just give my best. I don’t care anymore about the Championship. For sure I still care about it and it’s still possible mathematically, so I will never give up, but there’s been no luck this season. It’s crazy.”
Starting outside of the top 10 in P16, Pourchaire had his work cut out to get anything from the Feature Race and stay within touching distance of Drugovich.
The ART man made decent progress in the early stages, albeit after the race was interrupted by an early red flag on lap 4. After the restart, Pourchaire said he got caught up behind those on the hard compound tyres as they struggled to generate temperature following the resumption.
A second Safety Car wiped out any advantage he’d built up in terms of time to those behind, but he recovered to make up plenty of time in the closing stages and emerge with a point to his name.
“It was a tough race in general with the red flag. A lot happened in that race and unfortunately with the rules this weekend that the pitlane was closed during the Safety Car, I couldn’t box and we had one. Our gap was thrown away unfortunately and we couldn’t do a better job. P10 is still good and I grabbed an important point, but now it’s getting complicated.
“It was tough, I drove well and I’m proud of myself today. I had a good start then I did some good moves on the first lap. After the red flag I did my best. (Marino) Sato was on the option tyre so was much faster. Then after that at the Safety Car restart, I overtook my teammate which was a good move and we did a really good pit stop, then my stint on option tyres was unbelievable. We were really really fast. I had maybe a 20 second gap to P10 and I passed him on the last lap. The pace was very good, that’s important.”
Such was his pace in the latter stages, Pourchaire rued the fact the race went to time rather than the full 40-lap scheduled distance.
Making up a 13-second gap to Calan Williams to claim 11th after his stop was impressive but the Frenchman wasn’t done there. Another 10-second gap to the points was closed down in the space of two laps, and on the final tour, Pourchaire was able to pip Jehan Daruvala out of Turn 10 for the final points-paying position. After getting out of the car, Pourchaire said there would have been even more points on offer with a few more laps as he charged through on the soft rubber.
“Three or four laps to do more I could’ve grabbed two or three more positions but sometimes it’s like this. With the red flag we used the maximum time for the race and we scored points. It’s a really really good race if we take into consideration, we had the Safety Car that ruined our gap. We did a pit stop, lost 25-30 seconds on the track and needed to catch that back up. It wasn’t too bad.
“It wasn’t very complicated for myself. It was fine on the options with low fuel and free air. I was really fast and the tyres were easy to manage, they were really good. At the beginning of the race after the red flag mainly, I was on prime and stuck behind the option tyre runners and Sato, it was difficult to overtake and I was losing the front left tyre. The car felt great in general so unfortunately it sums up my season, I don’t have any luck.”
He will be hoping for better things in just under a weeks’ time at Monza, a circuit which he loves and has had strong results around in the past.
Last year, Pourchaire claimed victory in Monza Park in race one and will be aiming to replicate that form. He also believes the team has a great car for the low downforce requirements the circuit presents.
“I love Monza, it’s one of my favourite tracks. I won there last year in F2 and had two podiums there in F3. The car is good there and I will put everything together. I’ll be calm and let’s see how it goes. At Monza you can overtake a lot, we have a good car there and hopefully it’ll be the same again this year.”