The weeks that followed Théo Pourchaire’s Formula 2 debut with HWA RACELAB last season were spent knuckling down on his schoolwork, a rather fitting and not at all uncommon example of the often-unusual life of a racing driver.
With plenty of studying done over the winter, the 17-year-old ART Grand Prix racer was back in the cockpit for a different type of test in Sakhir last week, with plenty of work to do ahead of making the full-time step-up to F2.
Thankfully, he can be a quick learner.
“I do feel that I am a quick learner yes,” said Pourchaire. “Maybe in some areas I do learn quicker than other drivers, but I know that in other areas, a lot of drivers will learn faster than me.
“There are areas where I struggle a lot and I know I need to work on those, and I know I need to improve. The first races in F2 will be difficult, but as with last year, I need to take it step-by-step and hopefully I can win some races.
“I have been working hard over the winter to get ready. As well as all my schoolwork, I did a lot of sports and a lot of training, trying to prepare myself both physically and mentally as much as possible. I know that this year will be so tough, but it is going to be really important.”
Pourchaire’s ascent up the junior motorsport ladder has been rapid. He only made the move to single-seaters in 2018, but already has two titles - French F4 junior and ADAC Formula 4 – under his belt, as well as second place in Formula 3 last season. He also holds the honorary title of the category’s youngest ever race winner.
Pourchaire doesn’t plan to slow down anytime soon and made his F2 debut in the final two rounds of the 2020 campaign with HWA RACELAB.
On top of this experience, the Frenchman also posted the second highest lap count of pre-season testing earlier this month, just one behind Guilherme Samaia. He wants to give himself the best possible chance.
“In 2019, I was in F4 and now in 2021 I am already in F2. That is incredible,” he continued. “It is the last step before F1, and I hope to have a really good season. I have more mileage in the car compared to the other rookies in F2 and I think that will help me. My debut was really difficult, but the most important thing was for me to learn the car.
“The experience helped me to learn how F2 works: the races, the pit stops, all of those important little things that will help me this year. It was a really cool experience and I think it can be super important for me this season and can pay off.
“I know that I can make it. I know that I can be intelligent, and I know that I can be fast, but I have to work a lot. It will be really, really difficult, I understand that, but I am super happy and really grateful to ART and the Sauber Academy for the opportunity."