Sauber junior Theo Pourchaire will make his Formula 1 free practice debut with Alfa Romeo Racing in the first session of the United States Grand Prix weekend on October 21.
In a new-for-2022 rule, F1 teams are mandated to run a driver with less than three grand prix starts to their name in two FP1s across the year. Alfa Romeo could count the first practice session of the year at Bahrain as one of those as its race driver Zhou Guanyu was making his debut, and Formula 2 star Pourchaire’s run at Circuit of the Americas will be the second.
Sauber is the operating company behind Alfa Romeo’s F1 squad, and Pourchaire has been a long-term protege of the company. He made his F1 test debut with Alfa Romeo at the Hungaroring last summer, and will drive Valtteri Bottas’s car at COTA.
“I am thrilled to be making my free practice debut in Austin; it will be my second time behind the wheel of a F1 car, but in some ways, it will feel like it’s the first time, as this time it will be during an official grand prix session,” said Pourchaire.
“It feels like a dream coming true, and I want to thank Alfa Romeo F1 Team for putting their trust in me and granting me this amazing opportunity: I am looking forward to being on track, and I will make sure to get the most out of it and to do my best to support the team as they prepare for the United States GP.”
Pourchaire joined Sauber in 2019, and won the ADAC Formula 4 title. He was then FIA Formula 3 Championship runner-up in 2020, and has spent the last two years racing in F2 with ART Grand Prix. In his rookie season he won two races and came fifth in the standings, and this year has three victories to his name and sits second in the standings with one round to go.
Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur commented: “Theo has been delivering great performances over the course of this season, as well as during the previous years: we have been working closely with him for almost four years now, as a member of our Academy, and we have been impressed by his constant progress and development as a driver first and, equally importantly, as a person.
“We are delighted to give him his first Free Practice outing next week: it’s a well-deserved opportunity, and I’m confident he will once again impress us with his performances, as he will help the team gather valuable data ahead of the United States Grand Prix.”
Pourchaire is already out of contention for a 2023 F1 seat with Alfa Romeo as the team has opted to retain Zhou for a second season alongside Bottas. There are currently two vacant seats on the grid, one with Haas and one with Williams.