Sauber’s support has proven crucial for keeping Theo Pourchaire racing this year, while his involvement within its Formula 1 structure has increased.
The Frenchman and the Swiss team strengthened ties for 2023 despite the departure of Frederic Vasseur – who was Sauber’s CEO and team principal of the Alfa Romeo F1 team the company operates – who signed him as an F1 junior in 2019.
“Fred is the reason why I entered the Sauber Academy because at the time he was the boss of the team, so that’s why. But I don’t have any particular contact with Fred now, I’m working with the new bosses, who are Andreas Seidl and Alessando Alunni Bravi.
“For me it’s very good to work with them, and very happy, and the commitment of Sauber is very very good,” Pourchaire said to media at F1’s season opener.
Pourchaire recently told Formula Scout in the paddock that he is now “part of the F1 team fully” as reserve driver, and that Sauber is funding his third season in Formula 2 with ART Grand Prix.
“They are also helping me a lot financially, paying 100% of the season with the help of ART GP, with the help of the French federation. Sauber is really important to me, not only financially, but to help me grow and develop myself as a driver.
“I’m doing a lot of simulator, a lot of work at the factory on the technical side of a F1 car, how to build a F1 car. And it helps me to understand how a racing car is working.
“When I do like 500 laps in a day in the simulator, I improve my driving style and how to manage oversteer, how to manage understeer. And it helps me quite a lot also with the focus, to be concentrated, to not do a mistake on 500 laps. It’s very difficult sometimes,” but Pourchaire assured that it has also been helpful for F2.
The 19-year-old moved to Switzerland during winter and now lives close to Sauber’s Hinwil factory, which allows him to visit it regularly.
“It’s very important because I need to get to know a lot of people there. There are much more people than in a F2 team. So it’s important if I want to jump in the F1 seat one day, to know everybody 100% and to be familiar with all the faces of the team and to work with them.
“Now I can feel it, and I can see them when they see me, they know I’m Theo, I know them. The feeling is much better. Now I’m putting all my efforts to do a good job in F2, but also to prepare myself for the future. I hope one day I can drive in F1.”
Pourchaire’s F1 duties involve being Alfa Romeo’s reserve driver at the 13 events where F2 supports F1, and doing simulator correlation work during the nine remaining grands prix weekends. He is also expected to contest two F1 practice sessions, which are likely to be after the summer break.