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Theo Pourchaire

'Pourchaire the latest F2 champion who won the title too late'

Theo Pourchaire missed out on a Formula 1 seat for 2024, but he follows a trend of GP2/F2 champions to have claimed the title at the wrong time.

Theo Pourchaire
To news overview © XPBimages

There was a time just a few years ago when Theo Pourchaire was being touted as 'the next big thing.'

Now, the sad reality facing the newest FIA Formula 2 champion is that at just 20-years-old, it is increasingly clear that Formula 1 is going to pass him by - and that is simply because he took too long to win the title.

Pourchaire arrived onto the FIA ladder in 2020 with a glowing reputation - seemingly set to follow the route trailblazed by Charles Leclerc.

He won 16 of 21 races in the 2018 French F4 junior championship, before following up with the ADAC F4 title in 2019.

His momentum continued with two wins in FIA F3 in 2020 as he finished just three points behind a rival with as strong a junior career in one Oscar Piastri.

But in 2021, his star started to dim as he only managed fifth in the standings while Piastri romped to the title at the first attempt, before losing out to Felipe Drugovich in 2022, landing the crown at the third attempt, against a field not as strong as in previous years, in 2023.

Considering the fact that Leclerc (2017), George Russell (2018) and Piastri (2021) all won the F2 title at their first attempts and are now mainstays at the front of the F1 grid, Pourchaire's predicament becomes clear.

Simply put, F1 teams now expect their juniors to win the F2 title at the first try, maybe at the second if it is a tight battle that goes to the wire.

Three years against mediocre F2 fields is not going to earn Pourchaire a full-time seat in F1.

Pourchaire did not have options

What also goes against him is the fact that Sauber has elected to keep Zhou Guanyu on for a third season alongside Valtteri Bottas in 2024.

If Pourchaire was the real deal and the team were completely convinced that this star rookie on their hands was worth it, he'd be in the car. After all, as Max Verstappen proved, if you are fast enough, you are old enough.

It would be wrong to completely end Pourchaire's hopes of an F1 career at this stage, but what does it say to other teams sniffing around that his own F1 team don't feel he is worthy enough of a seat.

If Pourchaire was 'the real deal', like in the case of Piastri, there would have been a tug of war for his services and Sauber would have found a way, anyway, to get him in the car.

That the Piranhas weren't circling around him trying to lure him away speaks volumes for a driver heading to Super Formula in 2024.

Pourchaire does join a mixed record for GP2/F2 champions in recent years, with the only champion since 2019 on the grid in '24, set to be Piastri himself.

GP2/F2 champions and how they fared in F1

Season Driver F1 career Now
2005 Nico Rosberg 2016 World Champion Retired
2006 Lewis Hamilton Seven-time World Champion Mercedes
2007 Timo Glock 91 starts - 2004, 2008-2012 TV pundit
2008 Giorgio Pantano 14 starts - 2004 Retired
2009 Nico Hulkenberg 203 starts - no podiums Haas
2010 Pastor Maldonado 95 starts 2011 - 2015, one win Retired
2011 Romain Grosjean 179 starts - 2009, 2012-2020, one miraculous escape IndyCar
2012 Davide Valschecci Third driver outings, passed over for Lotus seat TV pundit
2013 Fabio Leimer FP1 at 2015 Hungarian GP for Manor Retired
2014 Jolyon Palmer 35 starts - 2016-2017 TV pundit
2015 Stoffel Vandoorne 42 starts - 2016-2018 Formula E
2016 Pierre Gasly 130 starts - one win Alpine
2017 Charles Leclerc 123 starts - five wins Ferrari
2018 George Russell 104 starts - one win Mercedes
2019 Nyck de Vries 11 starts - 2022-2023 Toyota WEC, Mahindra Formula E
2020 Mick Schumacher 43 starts - 2021-2022 Alpine WEC, Mercedes reserve
2021 Oscar Piastri 22 starts - one Sprint win McLaren
2022 Felipe Drugovich Reverse driver outings in 2023 Aston Martin reserve
2023 Theo Pourchaire Reverse driver outings in 2021-2023 Sauber reserve, Super Formula

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