Theo Pourchaire rose from 14th to seventh in Formula 2’s Yas Marina Circuit sprint race, but had his championship lead reduced to 16 points ahead of Sunday’s title decider.
The ART Grand Prix had come into the weekend 25 points clear of Prema’s Frederik Vesti, and on Friday qualified 14th while his rival was ninth. That meant Vesti was second on the reversed grid for Saturday’s sprint race, which he went on to win.
While Pourchaire will again start 14th for the season-ending feature race, that will be five places behind his rival who needs to at least make the podium to deny Pourchaire the crown.
“The race went well from my side,” a pleased Pourchaire said to the F2 website. “I gained seven positions. Starting from P14, P7 is a good recovery, a very, very important recovery and maybe the two most important points of my life probably. Every point is very, very important from now on, so I’m happy with that.”
He added: “It’s much better to be leading than behind, so I’m still focused. I’m very happy about the pace today. The car was good, the start was good, I just have to do the same tomorrow and also hope for a bit of luck.”
Staying out of trouble in the midfield may be harder on Sunday, as everyone pushes to end their season on a high, than it was in the sprint race.
“I took some risk on the first lap, and I did some good moves. Then with the DRS train, I couldn’t overtake anyone, but I didn’t want to take too much risk at the end of the race. The two points were really important. I don’t want to say it’s good because we are in a difficult situation, even if I’m still leading the championship by 16 points going into the last race.
“It gave me quite a lot of confidence because after qualifying yesterday I was very, very disappointed. I have a lot of confidence going into tomorrow’s race. I will do what I love to do – racing and take as much pleasure as I can in my last F2 race. I’m still the leader, I have good, good margin. Let’s hope for a great race.”
Pourchaire interestingly noted that “I have my team-mate starting P2 and that’s very, very important for me”, although whether Victor Martins would in some way use his race to directly help Pourchaire seems unlikely since he is fighting to come third in the championship.
“We are also fighting for the teams’ championship, but we know that [Vesti’s team-mate Ollie] Bearman is starting far back, so this can help us. So, my team-mate will be a key factor in this fight. I don’t put in so much pressure, I just have to do the job from my side starting P14. With the pace I have, I can clearly finish in the points, easily in the points, I hope.”