He would later be relegated from the podium after a penalty for an incident with Marcus Armstrong. Still, after lining up in P6, he put on a show for his supporters, moving up the order on a track where overtaking is supposed to be incredibly difficult.
Speaking at the post-Sprint Race press conference, the Frenchman shared his emotions after seeing the level of home support:
“It felt amazing. When I arrived at the P3 board, the atmosphere was just amazing. I would like to thank all the fans because… in Formula 2, I don’t think I deserve all of that! But it’s truly amazing.
“It gives me a boost, I’m so happy to race here. I’m ready for tomorrow, I want them to cheer for me and be happy.”
The ART Grand Prix driver made a good start and moved up as Jüri Vips fell down the order before making an aggressive lunge up the inside of his Championship rival Felipe Drugovich at Turn 3.
He was clearly enjoying the Sprint Race, getting his elbows out early on:
“I like the Sprint Race the way it is this year. You can take risks, make some good overtakes, and as soon as I have an opportunity, I try to take it, and today I did two pretty good moves.”
The aggression continued throughout, as the Sauber Junior driver came under pressure from behind but capitalised on the battle ahead to make a very firm move on Marcus Armstrong, who had to take to the run-off at Turn 11:
“I was P4, and I didn’t want to finish P4; I prefer to not finish the race than finish P4! I wanted this podium, so I gave everything.
“I feel like I was attacking and defending at the same time, so [it was] a lot of pressure.”
That aggression, which won the support of the adoring fans, would eventually land Théo in trouble with the stewards, as he was awarded a five-second time penalty for forcing Marcus Armstrong off the track.
Pourchaire will inevitably be frustrated by the stewards’ decision but will hope that he can make amends in the Feature Race and give his fans a celebration that will not be quite so short-lived.
Image: Formula Mot