With hundreds of drivers competing in feeder series all over the world, your chances of getting to Formula 1 are slim. If you manage to join the academy of a Formula 1 team though, they increase tenfold. That is, if you perform. In this series we take a look at how the members of F1 academies have performed in 2021. Today: the Sauber Academy.
By Perceval Wolff
It was only the second year of existence of the Sauber Academy, as the Swiss squad launched their junior program in 2020, succeeding the Sauber Junior Team which was created in 2019. The academy does not only hold single-seater drivers, but also a whole slew of talented karting drivers who make up the Sauber Karting Team.
Théo Pourchaire (Formula 2)
What a year for the French star. After clinching the title in ADAC F4 and finishing runner-up in his maiden FIA F3 season, the Sauber junior driver was one of the standout drivers of Formula 2. The most impressive moment of his season was at Monaco where he got pole position by being nearly half a second quicker than his nearest rival. He went on to win the Feature Race on Sunday, becoming the youngest F3000/GP2/F2 race winner at only 17 years old.
Not everything went his way as he got injured in a crash at Baku, fracturing his arm. He still decided to go to Silverstone six weeks later and managed to score some points, even though he was not completely fit. After getting his first F1 test in an Alfa Romeo from 2019, he came back in full force at Monza and Sochi scoring the most points behind Oscar Piastri. Unfortunately, the end of his season was compromised by a big shunt at the start of Jeddah’s Feature Race, preventing him once again from being one hundred percent ready for the final round. Pourchaire eventually managed to finish 5th in the championship.
Even though some thought Théo Pourchaire could join F1 with Alfa Romeo next year, Sauber boss Frédéric Vasseur decided it was better for his young countryman to stay in F2 one more year to go for the title. Alongside F2, the 18-year-old Frenchman could also get several FP1 outings to fully prepare for Formula 1 in 2023 or 2024. But will there be a place for him, with Valtteri Bottas and Formula 2 graduate Guanyu Zhou joining the Swiss-Italian next year?
Juan Manuel Correa (Formula 3)
Who would have thought Juan Manuel Correa would be back racing again after his horrific crash at the F2 Spa-Francorchamps round, costing Anthoine Hubert’s life two years ago? But the American-Ecuadorian driver managed to overcome his injuries and joined ART GP in FIA F3, with the help of Sauber. He rejoined the academy after having been one of the first Sauber Junior drivers back in 2019.
The season may not have been as good as those of his teammates Frederik Vesti or Alexander Smolyar, but that was to be expected considering he drove an adjusted car due to his injuries for the first half of the season. The start was good as he scored several points finishes. After the mid-season point, he dropped the adjustments to the car. It took him a while to adapt, but he managed to get back into the points at the final round in Sochi (P9 in the Sprint Race, P11 in the Feature Race).
At 22 years old, Juan Manuel Correa is weighing his options for the future and has several choices. The first one would obviously be to stay another year into F3, probably with ART GP as he did the post-season test in October with them. However, he also tested for Prema in the LMP2 category in endurance racing.
Last week Juan Manuel Correa made his long-awaited return in an F2 car, by competing in the post-season test with his former team Charouz Racing. “We’ll see what 2022 brings, not only in Endurance, but also in the Formulas and at the right time we’ll announce what my schedule will be.” F1 Feeder Series interviewed him back in August on his season and his future.
Emerson Fittipaldi Jr. (Danish F4)
After several Formula 4 tests in Northern America at the end of 2020, Emmo Fittipaldi made his racing debut in Danish F4, which is one of only two European F4 championship to welcome 14-year-old drivers. Juju Noda and him had several clashes on track, notably at the 2nd Padborg Park round where Noda took Fittipaldi out for the win on the final lap and was later disqualified. Fittipaldi bounced back to collect his two maiden wins in single-seaters, and finished 3rd in the standings behind championship legend Mads Hoe and Danish wunderkind Noah Strømsted (who missed the two first rounds).
Emmo Fittipaldi is actively working on stepping up to a major European F4 championship next year. Even during his Danish F4 season, the young Brazilian spent some time testing in Spanish F4 with GRS. He also tested last month with Van Amersfoort Racing in Italian F4.
Christian Ho (OK-Senior)
Christian Ho is a 15-year-old Singaporean kart racer and is part of the Sauber Academy since 2019. After finishing 2nd in the prestigious FIA Academy Trophy in 2019 and 4th in the FIA Junior World Championship, Ho has had a more complicated year against older opposition in the OK-Senior category (23rd in the WSK Champions Cup). He is now managed by Nicolas Todt and All Road Management who would surely like to place him in F4. He has already tested in Italian F4 with AKM Motorsport during 2021.
Miguel Costa (OK-Junior)
Brazilian karter Miguel Costa was engaged in OK-Junior category this year. His highlights this season were his 5th place at the WSK Super Master Series La Conca’s round and his 10th place (out of 101 drivers) at the CIK-FIA World Championship.
Tiziano Monza (OK-Junior)
Singaporean-Swiss 12-year-old Tiziano Monza stepped up from Mini (8-12 years old) to the Junior category (12-15 years old) during the year. Monza started his season with an important 3rd place at the WSK Champions Cup (Mini category) but had more difficulties in the higher class and will surely want to improve his performances in OK-Junior category next year.
Gustaw Wiśniewski (OK-Junior)
Thanks to the partnership between Sauber and Robert Kubica’s sponsor Orlen, two Polish karters joined the Sauber Academy. Gustaw Wiśniewski finished 2nd in the prestigious WSK Super Master Series in the OK-Junior category.
Maciej Gładysz (OK-Junior)
His countryman Maciej Gładysz (13) was one of the standout kart drivers and won the FIA Academy Trophy, one of the most important championships of the year.
Header photo credit: Formula Motorsport Ltd
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