Frenchman Théo Pourchaire completed a stunning opening weekend in FIA Formula 2 by winning Sunday’s Feature Race from pole position in Bahrain.
The ART driver crushed the opposition, winning by almost 20 seconds, claiming his sixth F2 victory and a second consecutive Feature Race win in Bahrain.
“It’s been an amazing weekend,” Pourchaire said, adding: “We did the pole by seven-and-a-half tenths, won the Feature Race, the Sprint Race was good as well, it’s a very good start.”
The Feature Race victory sealed an incredible weekend for the Alfa Romeo F1 reserve driver, putting the 19-year-old at the top of the championship.
After winning his first F2 race in Saturday’s Sprint Race, Swiss driver Ralph Boschung finished second, with Rodin Carlin’s Zane Maloney delivering an outstanding drive to cross the line in third, having started 18th.
Boschung and Maloney benefited from a Lap 1 collision, which eliminated Frederick Vesti, Victor Martins, and Dennis Hauger, although Maloney still had to pass multiple cars on his way to the podium.
Rookies Kush Maini, Arthur Leclerc, and Isack Hadjar collected points while the returning Juan Manuel Correa scored a point in 10th for Van Amersfoort Racing (VAR), as the battle for points went all the way to the final lap.
Pourchaire lays down title marker, admitting he could have won by more
Pourchaire’s dominant weekend will serve as notice to the rest of the F2 grid that he is the man to beat in 2023.
The Frenchman was beaten to the title in 2022 by MP Motorsport’s Felipe Drugovich, despite also winning last year’s opening Feature Race.
On a weekend where prospective title rivals Jack Doohan and Ayumu Iwasa underdelivered, Pourchaire did heavy damage, collecting 31 points to kick off his championship campaign.
Pourchaire admitted he had more in the tank in Bahrain, even saying he had enough speed in hand to keep an eye on the moves up and down the order behind him on the big TV screens.
“At the end on the soft tyres, I was just managing a lot, I could have driven a lot, lot quicker, but the most important thing for me was to take care of the tyres in case there was a safety car.”
If Pourchaire and ART can dominate this easily, it might be a worrying sign for the other teams and drivers that the Frenchman could run away with this year’s championship.
Boschung capitalizes on Lap 1 carnage
In his 96th F2 start on Saturday, Campos driver Ralph Boschung finally won an F2 race, and the Swiss driver followed that up with a podium finish.
Starting 10th, which had given Boschung the reverse grid pole for the Sprint Race on Saturday, a collision between the PREMA of Vesti and VAR of Richard Verschoor forced several drivers wide at Turn 4.
Boschung’s luck was in as the track cleared for the Swiss to sweep into fourth place behind the other PREMA of Ollie Bearman and Campos teammate Kush Maini.
A sweet move into the difficult braking zone of Turn 10 on British driver Bearman left Campos second and third as an early safety car was called.
Boschung started on the soft tyre, while many began on the hard compound, including his team mate Maini, who Boschung dispatched instantly at the restart on Lap 3.
Race leader Pourchaire, on the hards, faced an early challenge from the Campos, but Boschung was unable to find a way through.
However, the Swiss Sprint Race winner was understandably delighted with his weekend, celebrating loudly on the team radio at the end of the race.
Image Credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd