Theo Pourchaire is just one round away from a likely maiden Formula 2 Title, following a superb display at the Monza round of the 2023 season.
With just a single round left of the 2023 FIA Formula 2 Championship after this, a single poor result could make or break one’s aspirations for the entire year.
And this time, we certainly saw some huge swings in the Standings, with a few drivers surging up the order and others failing to put in a decent enough result around the so-called “Temple of Speed”.
This latest F2 Report examines what exactly happened at the penultimate round of the season, and expectations for the campaign decider.
Race winners weigh in on positive results
Saturday’s Sprint race was won by Title challenger Frederik Vesti. The Mercedes Academy driver closed the deficit to Pourchaire to just nine points by the end of the day, after a brilliant start from third on the grid saw him lead by the end of the opening lap.
The Dane maintained P1 for the rest of the 21-lap shootout, despite a late charge from ART Grand Prix driver Victor Martins. He spoke to media following the Sprint, full of confidence after a commanding victory.
He said: “I was quite confident, to be honest, we have a good car here. I’ve driven a lot of races here before but you never know what can happen in Monza.
“Taking the lead on Lap 1 I had a lot of laps to try and pull a gap, and then we had the Safety Car again so there was a lot of pressure, but we managed a good race,” Vesti added.
Vesti’s PREMA Racing teammate Oliver Bearman won the Feature race. The youngest driver on this year’s grid has impressed overall this season, with a flawless weekend in Azerbaijan and a further race win in Spain.
It was an incident-filled Sunday with six retirements. The race ended under the Safety car as Bearman cruised to a fourth victory of 2023, though he drove an excellent race with a first lap overtake on Pourchaire and later moves on Isack Hadjar and Jack Doohan before the second of three Safety cars in the Feature.
Bearman was jubilant to claim a race victory at PREMA’s home event, and said: “It felt really amazing, one of my best feelings, one of my best wins. To do it in front of the home crowd, it’s also kind of my home race because I live out here. To see all the support from the fans even for an F2 race was really amazing.”
Heartbreak for Vesti, Pourchaire excitement for Championship decider
One of the aforementioned retirements during the Feature race was for Vesti; a complete turn in fortunes for the Danish driver. He lasted just five corners before Trident’s Roman Stanek squeezed his PREMA onto the grass, sending him into a spin. He stalled on the track and had damaged his rear wing, forcing him out of the 30-lap event.
With Title rival Pourchaire crossing the line in third with the fastest lap, the gap between them now stands at 25 points. There’s no denying it will be a tall order for Vesti to win the Championship from this point.
On the other end of the spectrum, Pourchaire has put himself in an ideal situation to finally win the F2 crown at the third time of asking. He will undoubtedly be feeling the pressure when the final weekend of the season rocks up, but has provided himself with a substantial cushion to bring the Title home.
The Frenchman spoke after his podium in the Feature race about his plans for the next several weeks before the decider.
He stated: “I will go back to my reserve driver duties with Alfa Romeo and be a little more dedicated to that which is good, doing something else. A lot of simulator, probably some running in a Formula 1 car but I can’t say much.”
“But yeah I’m happy to have that comfortable lead in the Championship. I will still work hard. We haven’t won anything yet but it’s a huge day for the Championship so I’m happy,” Pourchaire added.
The drivers will have to wait almost two months for the deciding weekend of the Championship, from November 24th at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.