Photo: Formula Two
Racing in Formula Two aged just 15 is a feat in itself, but Matheo Tuscher has already claimed two pole positions and two second-place finishes and a fastest lap from four starts in the series…
Name: Matheo Tuscher
Date of birth: 12 December 1996 (age 15)
Currently: Second in FIA Formula Two standings
Everyone’s jumping on the Matheo Tuscher bandwagon – hardly surprising given his performances last weekend at Portimao where he twice finished in second place with a pair of mature drives. He is however a driver that first came to my attention last September. I made no mention of his age at the time – either because I didn’t know it or because I couldn’t obtain his date of birth anywhere.
Rather unsurprisingly, Matheo was an early starter, first driving a kart at the age of three. In 2006 he came second in the Bridgestone Cup in Switzerland in the Mini class, also coming fourth in the same category in the Swiss Championship. The following year he was fifth in the Swiss Championship in Super Mini, also winning the Champions Cup. 2008 saw him win the Swiss Super Mini title and the Mini ROK Cup. 2009 saw him step up to the KF3 category of karting, where he again won the Swiss Championship title. He contested the Swiss KF3 title again in 2010, but was only classified fourth.
2011 saw him make his debut in cars, and because he was aged just 14 he had to go to Asia. He raced in the brand new Formula Pilota China series, based upon the Formula Abarth category set up in Europe. He drove for the successful Swiss team Jenzer Motorsport, for whom he’d already done extensive testing in the Abarth car in Europe earlier in the year. He raced under a Czech license. He sensationally claimed two poles and two wins on his very first weekend in Guangdong, up against drivers with experience in championships such as F3 Euro Series and Formula BMW Pacific. Also amongst the drivers he got the better of that first weekend were Lucas Auer, who had already won five of his first six car races in the JK Racing Asia Series, and another car racing rookie Robert Visoiu, who had won in Formula Abarth.
While Auer and Visoiu didn’t stick around, Matheo’s form continued and he won a staggering eight of the season’s twelve races, taking pole for all but two.
His success entitled him to four days with the Ferrari Driver Academy at Fiorano in March 2011, where he tested an Italian F3 car under the supervision of programme chief Luca Baldisserri, took part in physical and psycological tests and spent a day on the simulator.
Over the winter of 2011-12 Matheo tested in both Formula Two and GP3, regularly running inside the top ten in both categories. He settled upon Formula Two for his 2012 campaign, becoming the youngest driver in the series aged 15.
Although he had looked competitive in testing, he stunned all by claiming pole for the very first race at Silverstone. Struggling to believe that his laptime had been set legally, there were initial suspicions that he had exceeded track limits during the qualifying session. His pole lap was clean though, and he started his first F2 race from the very front of the grid.
His race came apart when he ran wide on the opening lap and slipped down the order, and he later spun after trying to make up a position. He crossed the line in sixth place, a result he improved upon the following day when he finished in fifth position.
Two weeks later and the championship moved onto Portimao in Portugal. Matheo took third on the grid for the first encounter, and took second place off the line. He chased down race leader Luciano Bacheta towards the end of the race, crossing the line just three tenths behind the British driver seven years his senior.
The next day he took another pole position, this one in trecherous conditions – it even starting to hail as he charged towards the finishing line. In the dry race he was passed for the lead by Bacheta a few corners in, but Matheo clung onto the back of him throughout the race and looked as though he was biding his time for a last gasp overtake. A mistake on the penultimate lap however meant it wasn’t to be, but he still recorded a fine double-second place.
Talent rating: Well, it’s pretty obvious the kid has talent, isn’t it? Judging the level of competition he was up against in FPC last year and again in F2 this year is a bit tricky though. At no point has he raced against another properly highly-rated driver (although it should be said that he did show well against some known talents in GP3 testing), and nor did he test himself at the highest levels of international karting. As such, I’m refraining from giving him a 10/10 just yet. 9/10
Chances of getting to F1: Bacheta has built up a comfortable points advantage already in F2, but there’s nothing to say Matheo won’t close that down once he gains more experience. Regardless of that, he may have little choice at the end of the year other than to step up into more powerful machinery. It will be his performances in GP2 or FR3.5 that will show whether he really has what it takes, but it looks rather likely at the moment. He’ll surely be attracting the F1 teams with his current performances, and he seems to have a healthy collection of sponsors ready to help him onto the next level. Also, he’s managed by Craig Pollock, who previously managed Jacques Villeneuve and is the founder of the PURE F1 engine project.? 9/10
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