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Pourchaire pleased to qualify in top three for fifth time in a row in F2

by Alejandro Alonso Lopez

Photo: Formula Motorsport Ltd

Theo Pourchaire made it four rounds out of four for qualifying in the top three this year in Formula 2’s Friday qualifying session in Baku, leaving him particularly happy.

His run extends to five rounds when including 2022’s Abu Dhabi’s season finale, and the ART Grand Prix driver was “very, very pleased” with his improved performance over one lap this year, something he had targeted during the off-season. 

“It’s a nice result again,” he stated. “It’s my fifth top three, consecutive, if we take in consideration Abu Dhabi last year. I’m pretty good in qualifying now, doing a good job. I tried to improve a lot compared to last year.

“The car was not so good [in the] first run. I was not very happy. I think I was P6, which is not that bad, but I was not very confident. In the second run, I had a great tow as well, good track position because it was really difficult. It was a complete mess in front of me, a lot of cars trying to overtake each other. But nice quali, P3 in the end. I’m happy with that.”

This third place adds to the ones achieved at Abu Dhabi last year and Jeddah earlier this season and the front-row spot earned in Australia. The pole position he scored in the opening round at Bahrain remains his best qualifying result since Monaco in 2021, where he impressed to take pole and won on his first visit to the track during his rookie F2 season.

In 2022, the Sauber junior was only 12th fastest in the aggregated qualifying times, with an average starting grid position of 8.1. In spite of that and with no poles to his name, he still managed to finish the season as championship runner-up. However, a 101-point gap separated him from the champion Felipe Drugovich.

Pourchaire expects his bettered qualifying skills to place him in a better position to score more points during the weekends. 

“I could have been five times on pole,” he joked. “I know there is always room for improvement, but I’m very proud of it.

“I mean, it’s not necessary to do every time the pole by five tenths. You know, it’s just better to start in the top three than to start, outside of the top ten or, you know, close to the top ten. It’s not good.

“So I’m happy with that. We did a good job. I worked a lot on myself, the car is better as well in quali, but now we score the points in the races. But for sure, it helps a lot. It helps a lot to start at the front and also in Baku that we start P3 in the feature race, but also P8 in the sprint race. And in the sprint I can score some good points. So I’ll be focused on both races and I’m happy with that.”

His grid position for Saturday’s sprint race was later lowered to 11th after he recieved a three-place grid penalty for impeding another driver.