The FIA Formula 2 Championship had its final round in July at the Hungaroring before teams and drivers scattered around the world for the series’ summer break. InsideF2 spoke to a few figures in the paddock that weekend about how their 2022 seasons have unfolded.
One of the highlights of ART Grand Prix driver Théo Pourchaire’s season was his home round at the Circuit Paul Ricard, where he stood on the podium twice.
In the Sprint Race, the Frenchman finished third on the road and got to celebrate on the rostrum. After the race, however, he was demoted to seventh after earning a five-second penalty for forcing Marcus Armstrong off track while overtaking at the Double Droite de Beausset three laps from the end.
He avenged himself the next day with a controlled drive to second place from fifth on the grid, undercutting team mate Frederik Vesti and Virtuosi’s Jack Doohan with an early pit stop.
That Feature Race podium gave him a second opportunity to celebrate with his home fans, and he joined the mechanics from French team DAMS Racing – who were there to honour their race-winning driver, Ayumu Iwasa – to sing La Marseillaise, the country’s national anthem.
Four days after that Feature Race podium, InsideF2 caught up with Pourchaire in the Budapest paddock, where he reflected on the ‘incredible weekend’ he enjoyed at Paul Ricard.
“It was my home race and the home race for the team as well, so a lot of people were at the track to support us. It was amazing, truly amazing,” Pourchaire said. “I would like to thank all of them because it’s very unique. It will stay forever in my mind and in my heart as well because it’s the first time I received a ton of support like that.
“In terms of performance, it was a good weekend, two podiums. For sure, the first one I got a penalty afterwards, but it’s okay. To be honest, for me, it’s not very fair to receive a penalty for that, but I completely accept the decision from the stewards – it’s like that.
“And anyway, I had the chance, the opportunity, to celebrate with all the fans two times, and it was amazing.”
If that weekend demonstrated Pourchaire’s strength in race pace, it also revealed the one area in which he’s lacked a bit this year: Qualifying. His average position on Fridays this season has been 7.2, and he has only qualified on the front row twice.
In a head-to-head comparison with rookie team mate Vesti, Pourchaire had been out-qualified 3–6 ahead of the Hungaroring – a disappointing statistic for the second-year driver. At the Hungaroring, he qualified fourth while Vesti finished seventh, putting an end to a four-round streak of losing out to the Dane in Qualifying.
“I know how to do Qualifying. I have everything to do good lap times,” Pourchaire said. “It’s just very little details to improve, to put together in one lap, and to do the pole and to beat my teammate.
“But it’s okay – it’s not the most important thing. I know I can improve that. I will work a lot on that. The points are for the races.”
And score big points he did. Just three days after talking to InsideF2, Pourchaire was leading the Hungaroring Feature Race and cruising to his third win of the season. Despite podiums in each of the previous three rounds, he and championship leader Felipe Drugovich were separated by at least 39 points – a weekend’s worth – since Baku. With that victory, he closed the gap in the standings down to 21 points.
“I took a lot of pleasure driving on all those European tracks,” Pourchaire told InsideF2 about the rounds at Silverstone, the Red Bull Ring and Paul Ricard in July. “Very, very cool races, a lot of fans. The tracks are cool to drive; the races are fun. I’m happy to be here.”
Pourchaire may intend to leave F2 after this year, as he and his management recently disclosed to several outlets – but he’s relishing in the journey of the 2022 season, one that could culminate in a championship title, while it lasts.
Image: Formula Motorsport Limited