Theo Pourchaire has been given a five-place grid penalty for the Formula 2 feature race in Jeddah after crashing into Prema’s Ollie Bearman in the sprint race.
On the opening lap, Pourchaire lost two positions to ART Grand Prix team-mate Victor Martins and Bearman to go from seventh to ninth. He reclaimed one position by passing Virtuosi Racing’s Jack Doohan following a safety car restart, then made a great lunge down the inside of Campos Racing’s Kush Maini at turn one to return to seventh place.
Next up were Martins and Bearman, and Pourchaire went for a turn one lunge again. He cleared Martins, but clattered into Bearman at speed. The front-right wheel of Pourchaire’s car came off, and both drivers immediately retired from the race.
“Oh man, the guy is crazy. He was doing the same in Bahrain,” Bearman said on the radio afterwards. Doohan saw the incident play out from behind and said “he’s just a fucking nutcase, that dude”.
After avoiding being struck by his team-mate, Martins rose from sixth to the runner-up spot in the second half of the race and was asked in the podium press conference about Pourchaire’s crash.
“I was going quite fast, I braked quite late, and then I stayed on the line and I saw Theo going really, really fast into Bearman,” Martins recalled.
“So I was like ‘that was a mistake’, because I was already going really, really fast and I was catching the others on the braking, and he came way too fast. I think he needs to stay a bit more calm, because we have a good pace and we can come back later in the race.”
Martins said he was not worried about being caught up in the incident, and emphasised that he has “a good relationship” with his team-mate.
“At no point I thought he was going to hit me or he was doing that on purpose. I think it’s just a mistake. He just braked maybe a bit too late, and he lost probably the rear.
“I saw him coming at the end of the brake [zone], and I just opened the wheel and brake a bit more to see what was going to happen. And then when I saw he was hitting Bearman, for sure I was not understanding everything. I had to maybe go right, maybe go left, and I saw they were going a bit on the outside. So I just kept my line in, and that was it.”
The five-place penalty means Pourchaire starts Sunday’s feature race from eighth on the grid, having qualified third. He also gets two penalty points on his licence.
After the race he posted to his Instagram story, saying: “I’m sorry. Mistakes happen, apologies to Ollie, Prema and my team ART GP. Focus on tomorrow.”