Alfa Romeo: "Too risky" to promote Pourchaire to F1 for 2022

Alfa Romeo team principal Frederic Vasseur believes it would have been “too risky” to promote Theo Pourchaire into Formula 1 for 2022, but is planning to give him FP1 appearances.

Race winner Théo Pourchaire, ART Grand Prix

Alfa Romeo announced earlier this week that it had signed Formula 2 title contender Guanyu Zhou for next season, partnering the incoming Valtteri Bottas.

It ended the hopes of Sauber junior Pourchaire - who also races in F2 and currently sits fifth in the championship in his rookie season - of making the leap up to F1 for next year.

Speaking on Friday in Qatar, Alfa Romeo team boss Vasseur confirmed that Pourchaire would be remaining in F2 next season.

“We had a long discussion the last couple of weeks,” Vasseur said.

“He did a fantastic season in F2 for the first one, but we have also to keep in mind that 18 months ago, he was in F4.

“The step between F4 and F3 was huge. Then he did well in F3, the same for the F2. He won this season in Monaco.

“But the car is so complex and we have just six test days before the season, it means that it could have been, from my point of view, too risky, too challenging to do the step now.

“It's much better to be focused on the championship in F2 next year, and we will see the future.”

Théo Pourchaire, Alfa Romeo

Théo Pourchaire, Alfa Romeo

Photo by: Alfa Romeo

Teams will be required to field a young driver for at least two practice sessions in 2022, opening the door for Pourchaire to make his F1 weekend debut.

The French youngster enjoyed his first F1 test with Alfa Romeo at a private test in August, but is set for further running next year alongside his F2 commitments.

“He will do for sure some FP1s, we will do some test days,” Vasseur said.

“We will try to prepare him for the future, but again, when you're doing the championship in F2, the most important is to win the championship and not to prepare the future or something like this.

“And I will ask him to be champion in F2.”

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Zhou is currently in his third season in F2, lying second in the standings, and has already conducted F1 testing with Alpine as part of his place on its junior programme.

Asked by Autosport what qualities Zhou had shown to convince Alfa Romeo to sign him for next year, Vasseur felt his performance was “speaking for itself”.

“He is a frontrunner, he won this season in Bahrain and Silverstone,” Vasseur said.

“In F2, it’s probably the two most demanding tracks, Bahrain for tyre management and Silverstone, it’s with the high-speed corners.

“He did some pole positions, he’s always there, consistent, and I’m sure that he will do well next year.”

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