Theo Pourchaire will make an appearance with Alfa Romeo Sauber in the second half of 2023, with the Frenchman scheduled to make a Free Practice appearance in the C43 machine.
The 20-year-old currently leads the Formula 2 Championship in his third year in the series, aiming to prove himself worthy of an F1 seat.
Pourchaire has been mentioned as an exciting talent for several years, consistently impressing the paddock throughout his junior career. Given his status as a Sauber junior, there have naturally been conversations across F1 news outlets about his chances of earning a promotion.
Unfortunately for the Frenchman, Zhou Guanyu is competing at a reasonable level for Alfa – largely matching the performances of teammate Valtteri Bottas.
With the Finnish driver already contracted with the team for 2024, Pourchaire must rely on an unlikely dismissal of Zhou to join the grid next season.
Alfa Romeo’s hesitance to confirm their driver lineup indicates there is still some hesitancy, especially given Zhou’s eagerness to secure an agreement over the summer break.
Until an official announcement silences speculation, Pourchaire’s quotes about his upcoming free practice run will have a little extra weight:
“It will be after Monza, when there will not be any Formula 2 races for quite a while,” he told Autohebdo.
“It will allow me to learn new circuits and gain more experience in Formula 1. I can’t wait.”
Considering the comments from several senior personnel at Alfa Romeo thus far, it would be premature to suggest Pourchaire is a favourite to feature in F1 next year.
After all, this appearance is largely to fulfil one of the mandatory rookie sessions that Formula 1 obliges teams to complete.
However, Pourchaire can improve his case for an Alfa Romeo seat by securing the Championship in Formula 2 this year. His current trajectory could certainly give the Swiss-based team a headache with their decision.
Zhou is a known quantity that brings significant sponsorship and, based on the last 18 months, can establish himself as a solid midfield option. He is also inexperienced and, therefore, likely to improve in the upcoming years.
Ultimately, if Sauber has faith in the potential of their junior driver, now is the time to prove it and take the risk.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang