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Pourchaire ‘surprised about Doohan’ after Virtuosi struggles in Bahrain

ART Grand Prix’s Théo Pourchaire had an outstanding start to his third year in Formula 2, taking pole in Bahrain and converting it to a feature race win. While the 19-year-old leads the standings by four points coming into Round 2 in Saudi Arabia, he told Feeder Series that he was surprised to see Virtuosi and lead driver Jack Doohan struggle in the opening round of the season.

By Tyler Foster

Despite failing to take a pole position in 2022, Pourchaire secured pole in the first round by 0.751 seconds over teammate and reigning FIA F3 champion Victor Martins – the largest pole margin in modern F2 history. He continued this dominant form later in the weekend, scoring fifth in the sprint race before going on to take victory on Sunday to score a total of 32 points from the first round.

But Pourchaire’s 2022 rival Doohan, Alpine’s F1 reserve driver, endured a difficult weekend, with the Virtuosi package looking noticeably weaker than in the same event last year. Twelve months ago, Doohan took pole in just his third F2 weekend, but this time around, he qualified 17th and failed to score points in the two races, with teammate Amaury Cordeel faring no better.

Pourchaire admitted that he was surprised about his competitor’s underwhelming start but still believed that the Australian would remain a threat.

“I’m surprised about Doohan, for sure, and Virtuosi,” Pourchaire said. “Last year they were really quick there – he did the pole – and now it’s completely the opposite. So I’m a bit surprised with that, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to be really fast for the rest of the year. As I said, it’s only the first race weekend. We have to stay focused and just focus on ourselves, for me and also for the team, because it’s only the beginning. We have thirteen rounds to go, so it’s a very, very long way.”

As the Formula 2 paddock takes to the streets of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia this weekend, ART and Pourchaire’s performances as a team in Bahrain – with a sprint race podium for Martins and Pourchaire’s feature race win – put them among the frontrunners.

“It gives me and the team a lot of confidence. I was in this situation last year, and I did some mistakes,” Pourchaire said of his 2022 Jeddah weekend, when he failed to score points. “Now I will try just to not do them again. That’s why I’m in my third F2 year and having this experience will help me.”

The contrast between Jeddah and Melbourne, which appears on the F2 calendar for the first time, will firmly test ART’s potential superiority across the season.

“The team worked a lot this winter, which is a really good thing. We were quick this weekend. The next races, I’m sure we will be quick as well. I’m feeling confident; the team is quick in Saudi. Then we have Melbourne, which is a new venue for everyone, and we don’t know where we will be,” he told Feeder Series.

“For the rest of the year, ART has always been a very quick team. We struggled last year in some places, but we will work hard and adapt ourselves to every kind of situation.”

Header photo credit: Virtuosi Racing

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