Theo Pourchaire was “very close” to signing for Alfa Romeo F1 for the 2024 season- Reports
Star F2 driver Theo Pourchaire recently revealed that he was very close to signing a deal with the Alfa Romeo F1 team for the 2024 season, and was set to replace Zhou Guanyu in the team.
The Sauber Academy driver is currently on track to claim the 2023 F2 title. After seeing the Frenchman's exploits in the junior series, Alfa Romeo delayed its decision to extend Zhou Guanyu's contract as they continued to evaluate both drivers.
In a recent interview with French media outlet Off Track, Pourchaire admitted that he came very close to replacing the Chinese driver for 2024. He then went on to add that the deal didn't go through for certain reasons.
The 20-year-old might be referring to monetary reasons, as Zhou Guanyu has significant backing from Chinese sponsors. ESPN's Laurence Edmondson recently claimed that axing Zhou would incur losing millions for the Suaber outfit, as the Audi takeover was still two years away.
Hence the team decided against promoting its academy driver and retained its current lineup for 2024. Zhou Guanyu signed a new one-year deal with the team, while the team exercised a contract extension with Valtteri Bottas, leaving its driver lineup unchanged for the upcoming season.
Theo Pourchaire will assume the reserve driver role for the team and is looking for an opening in 2025. In the recent interview, the 20-year-old said that there is a "possibility" of him joining the F1 grid in 2025.
Alfa Romeo evaluating F1 route for Theo Pourchaire
With Theo Pourchaire missing out on a seat for the 2024 F1 season, the Alfa Romeo Sauber team is exploring other routes into F1 for the Frenchman.
The 20-year-old boasts an incredible racing resume as the champion of the 2019 German F4 season and runner-up in F3 and F2. He is the title favorite in the 2023 F2 season heading into the season finale.
Sauber managing director Alessandro Alunni Bravi said that the team is currently assessing the various options for the Frenchman.
“We are discussing together which will be the best racing programme for him to be ready to jump into the F1 car. No doors are closed for him in the future,” he was quoted by Autosport.
Like past F2 champions Felipe Drugovich and Oscar Piastri, Pourchaire is likely to miss out on an F1 promotion immediately.
“We have seen with Felipe Drugovich… Piastri as well that, after one year in Formula 2, if there is not actual chance to be a race driver, this doesn't exclude the possibility for the team to appoint in the future.”
Alunni Bravi admitted that the team wants to run a test program in old F1 cars but lacks the resources like the bigger teams. Nonetheless, Alfa Romeo wants to keep Pourchaire in close association and hopes to see the driver win the F2 title.