Indeed, on the Sauber side (Alfa Romeo until the end of the 2023 season), we are happy with the current pair of drivers and we have decided to sign them for an additional year. If on Zhou’s side we have indeed had good results (given the driver’s lack of experience), on the other hand on Bottas’s side, we have more the impression that he is in dilettante or end-of-career mode.
However, it stacks up again. Théo Pourchaire, driver protected by Sauber will still be reserve driver (one of the reserve drivers specifies Alfa Romeo Stake F1 Team). It must be said that in the absence of very convincing results in Formula 2, it is difficult to change one of the starters for Théo, unfortunately for him. A title in F2 would perhaps change the situation for 2025 or 2026. But for the moment, it is blocked.
The Formula 2 season is coming to an end. There is only the Yas Marina weekend left in the United Arab Emirates from November 24 to 26, 2023. Pourchaire leads the championship with 25 points ahead of Vesti. But mathematically, nothing is decided since each weekend can bring 39 points (25 for victory in the main race, 10 in the sprint race, 2 points for pole and 1 point for the best laps in the race).
If Pourchaire had a solid season with 9 podiums (2 or 3rd place), he only won one race compared to 5 for Frederik Vesti, who was more irregular. A victory during the last weekend and the title would be a big plus for his future. He is still young but the F1 train is leaving without him. Above all, whether he is titled or not, he will not be able to return for a 4th season of F2. If he is titled, it is prohibited by the regulations, and if he is not titled, it would definitely damage his progress. So in 2024, we could see him in the role of reserve driver, but also in Super Formula. It’s the Japanese single-seater championship that often welcomes drivers into the F1 waiting room. Gasly has been there, and this year, Liam Lawson is taking part (when he is not the replacement for the replacement at AlphaTauri).
In short, places in F1 are still few in number and potential drivers still numerous. Théo is no exception to the rule that you have to be “exceptional” or arrive at the right time to become a starter in F1. Zhou giving satisfaction, Sauber prefers to play for continuity, and that is understandable.