Theo Pourchaire believes he “could have driven a lot faster” on his way to a dominant victory in the first feature race of the 2023 Formula 2 season.
Despite his focus on protecting his position, the ART Grand Prix driver took the chequered flag with an advantage of 19.666 seconds over second-placed Campos Racing’s Ralph Boschung.
“It’s been an amazing weekend and finishing like that is incredible. The race was perfect, almost perfect. We can always do better, but I don’t want to push too much,” the Sauber junior said.
“It was a very good race, very good start and I saw the guys behind me. They were really far and [I was like] ‘ooo, that’s good’. I can open Turn 1 and take a good line.
“After that, there was a safety car and I knew Ralph was on option tyres, and my main goal was to keep him behind me because I didn’t want to use my tyres behind him,” he explained about his strategy during the race’s early stages.
“We did a good strategy first. The team did a very good strategy. They were calm, we boxed at the right time, which was important. And, I mean, we won the race. It’s amazing, really good sprint race yesterday and the pole by 0.750s. So this weekend was very good.”
The Frenchman was asked by Formula Scout about how he had approached the management of the race in comparison with Saturday’s sprint race, when he struggled with tyre degradation.
“The main difference for me is that I was P1. I had free air the whole race, which was very important, and that’s why I wanted to make a good start,” he replied.
“We adapted the set-up of the car for today. Yesterday, we struggled a bit in the race. But, as I said, now I had free air and it was much more easier.
“The last part of the race, the stint on option [tyre], I could have driven a lot faster to be honest, but I wanted to bring the car home. I didn’t want to do any mistakes and I wanted also to take care of the tyres in case there was a safety car. Like that I could fight, I could defend myself,” he explained.
“I was focused just on bringing the car home, and sometimes I was looking at the big screen in the main straight to see where the other drivers were,” he then added. “It was a pretty calm race on my side.
“Also we didn’t have any issue with the car, which was very important and which is stressful. When you’re leading the race like that, you just need to bring the car home. So it was pretty, pretty good.”
This victory gives driver and team “a lot of confidence”, with Pourchaire aiming to avoid last year’s mistakes that left him a distant championship runner-up. “That’s why I’m in my third year [in F2] and having this experience will help me.”