NOVEMBER 20, 2021
Pourchaire very close to F1 debut in 2022
Theo Pourchaire says he came "very close" to being signed as Valtteri Bottas' Alfa Romeo teammate for 2022.
The Sauber junior, 18, is clearly the preferred protege of team boss Frederic Vasseur, but Vasseur insists he didn't want to "burn" his fellow Frenchman by pushing him into Formula 1 too early.
"I am obviously disappointed," Pourchaire, who is fifth overall in his debut Formula 2 season this year, told France's Auto Hebdo.
"I would be lying to say otherwise. Because even if I am told all day long that I am young and have plenty of time to arrive in F1, I am disappointed because I came very close to this seat.
"It was between Guanyu (Zhou) and me," he revealed.
Indeed, another reported candidate for the seat - F2 championship leader Oscar Piastri - insists he was never really in contention to join Alfa Romeo.
"I don't know if my management discussed it with them, but I knew the odds were pretty slim from the start," Piastri said.
The Mark Webber-managed Piastri will be Alpine's full-time reserve in 2022 - and he admits he is eyeing a potential debut for 2023.
"No one has made any promises," the 20-year-old Australian said.
"There is this story of FP1 being reserved for young drivers next year, and I'd like to believe that I have a chance, but we will see later.
"I don't know more than that."
As for Pourchaire, he is definitely now pushing to break into Formula 1 for 2023.
"Like I said, I think I really deserve my place in F1," said the 2020 FIA Formula 3 runner-up. "It won't happen in 2022 for various reasons and I respect the decision.
"The most important thing is that I have the confidence of Sauber and if what they have planned for me for the future works from A to Z, that will be very interesting."