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McLaren offer big break to rising star of F1 rival

McLaren will run Sauber junior Theo Pourchaire for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar Team in at the Grand Prix of Long Beach in place of injured David Malukas.

To news overview © XPBimages

McLaren are set to give Stake F1 prospect and Sauber junior Theo Pourchaire his IndyCar debut at the Grand Prix of Long Beach this weekend, in place of David Malukas, who has been injured since the start of the season.

The 20-year-old is racing in Japanese Super Formula this year, in the hope of earning a seat in F1 for 2025.

Having finished runner-up to Felipe Drugovich in the 2022 F2 championship, the French driver went one better last term, clinching the drivers' title over Frederik Vesti in the Abu Dhabi season finale.

Despite this, Stake F1 opted to retain Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu - who will take part in his maiden home race in F1 at this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.

Like Drugovich at Aston Martin, Pourchaire has settled for reserve duties at Stake, but deputising for Malukas represents an opportunity to impress the team, and also potentially shore up options for next season in the United States-based IndyCar.

Fellow F2 graduate Callum Illot took the place of Malukas at the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, in Florida.

Upon the announcement, Arrow McLaren team principal Gavin Ward said the team is "excited to see what he can do on the track in Long Beach", as well as addressing Malukas' prolonged absence.

“It’s a shame that David’s recovery is longer than we all originally anticipated," he explained as part of the confirmation.

"He’s been working with our team trainer very closely with what rehab and strength exercises are possible at this point, and the team’s been doing a great job in the meantime to work together through the changes they’ve had since his injury.

"Théo may be an unexpected driver in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES paddock this season, but we’re excited to see what he can do on the track in Long Beach and are thankful for Sauber in working with us to make it happen. He has a strong resume, especially for his young age, and he’s eager to work with us and put his driving to the test this weekend.”

Pourchaire himself highlighted gratitude to the team, whilst highlighting the opportunity at hand.

"This is an amazing opportunity to drive with such a legendary team in a legendary motorsport series like the NTT INDYCAR SERIES," he said.

"I’ve watched INDYCAR since I was a young kid, and the racing is incredible. I was thrilled to get the call from the team. I’m grateful that Zak, Gavin and Tony thought of me for this opportunity and for the team at Sauber to allow me to get on track at Long Beach. I am also sorry that the opportunity came as David continues to recover. It’s not going to be an easy task, but I’m ready for it.”

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