At just 16 years of age – blowing out seventeen candles this August 20th – Théo Pourchaire is getting ready to take part in this season’s Formula 3 World Championship with the French ART Grand Prix team. As a youth crowned with success in all the categories he has raced in, the young boy from Grasse is moving a little further each year towards his ultimate dream: to one day be crowned Formula 1 World Champion. Monaco Tribune looks at his journey from precocious talent to consuming passion.
No sooner had he walked than he was already settled in the driver’s seat. “At two and a half years old, he was already driving,” recalls Jérôme, his father, who was still nostalgic when he recalled his son’s first laps around the track. “I was learning how to accelerate and brake, while someone was running behind my kart,” smiles Théo Pourchaire, who has been in love with motorsport ever since. “Because he was winning, we kept going, but none of this was planned at the start,” explains Jérôme, a great motorsports enthusiast, who obviously didn’t fail to pass on his passion to the young Pourchaire. “In the beginning, it was just for fun, but from victory to victory, from title to title, we kept going, without ever giving up.”
He almost became the youngest French karting champion in history
Théo’s skills were undoubtedly enough to drive him from the Sarrée karting track, nestled in the heights of Grasse, to the most prestigious circuits in the world. “He started the competition a year ahead of schedule,” says his long-time coach Nicolas Moni (Jana Racing), who has been nurturing the prodigy since he was a child. “Very quickly, he was able to compete with people older than him and adapt each year to the step-up between categories. In three years, he has been double French champion and vice-champion of France in karting, which is very rare, especially at such a young age. He even came close to being the youngest French karting champion in history in his first season. We missed out on the title by just one point. The last race of the championship took place in July, at Salon-de-Provence, and right in the middle of the race, it started to rain. Theo had never raced in the rain before, and he ended up coming out as he led the race and headed straight for the title.”
Perhaps a small mishap but it in no way spoiled the young man’s talent, or even his resounding exploits and sensational results, which have led him to Formula 3 this season. It’s a logical conclusion and solid climb after his first season in single-seater racing last year, which ended brilliantly with a new championship title, in Formula 4 this time.
“He listens, analyses, applies and goes fast. He leaves nothing to chance,” says his father. He’s constantly looking for solutions. That’s what makes the difference with a lot of drivers.” These are obvious qualities, which quickly became apparent to Nicolas Moni. “He’s an excellent finisher, who knows how to manage his races, the traffic, his tyres and the equipment. He doesn’t take unnecessary risks. When he’s not in a position to win, he knows how to play placed.”
Perhaps we will be seeing his name on the boards at Formula 1 in the next few years? “He believes in it, he wants F1,” says Jérôme Pourchaire. “I think he has a good chance of reaching Formula One,” adds his coach, “He’s following in the footsteps of the very best.”
Youngest driver in Formula 3 World Championships
Before thinking about his future in the premier class of motorsport, the driver who recently took part in the Virtual Le Mans 24 Hours must first focus on his upcoming season, which will start at the same time as his Formula 1 season, on July 5th at the Austrian Grand Prix at Spielberg. “I’m happy to be driving again, I feel ready,” he said. “My goal this year is to get my bearings. It will be more complicated, but I’m also going there to win. ART Grand Prix is one of the best. I’m going to do my best to give the team back the confidence they’ve given me.”
While part of his future is also in the hands of the Sauber Junior Team, a team which he has been since last year, Théo Pourchaire knows that he will be at the turning point over the next two seasons, which will be decisive for the rest of his career. “He is the youngest driver entered this year in F3,” confirms his father. “He’s not yet 17, so he still has a little bit of leeway. But he’s going to have to show up against some quality drivers. Some have gone straight from F3 to F1, like Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon or Max Verstappen. So why not him. I’m trying to help him as much as I can to make it happen, but from now on, I’m taking a step back.”
A fan of Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, the former French and European go-kart champion cannot imagine any other outcome than Formula 1. “I dream of being crowned world champion. I’ve loved Formula 1 since I was very young and my father introduced me to the Monaco Grand Prix in 2006. I’ve seen Michael Schumacher. It made a huge impression on me, it was amazing.”
From dreams to reality: there is seems to be only one step that Théo Pourchaire is ready to take, as soon as possible.