French driver Theo Pourchaire will take over Valtteri Bottas’ car during the United States Grand Prix FP1 session this weekend at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN announced on Thursday.
Theo Pourchaire, a member of the Sauber Academy since 2019, will make his debut in a Formula One weekend, running in FP1 next weekend at the wheel of the Alfa Romeo C42 in the United States Grand Prix.
“I am thrilled to be making my Free Practice debut in Austin; it will be my second time behind the wheel of a Formula One car, but in some ways, it will feel like it’s the first time, as this time it will be during an official Grand Prix session,” the 19-year-old said.
Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN fielded Pourchaire to drive the team’s 2019 C38 machinery in August last year at the Hungaroring.
The Sauber junior completed a full program in the private test session, giving a step forward in his career by driving a Formula One car for the first time.
Further speaking about his upcoming outing in the United States, he outlined: “It feels like a dream coming true, and I want to thank Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN for putting their trust in me and granting me this amazing opportunity.”
“I am looking forward to being on track, and I will make sure to get the most out of it and to do my best to support the team as they prepare for the United States Grand Prix.”
According to the new Sporting Regulations, all Formula One teams must run rookie drivers, with no more than two race starts in the series, during FP1 on at least two occasions throughout the year.
In that regard, the young driver outing will comply with one of the mandatory sessions under the rookie status the team is required to make.
Frederic Vasseur, Alfa Romeo F1 Team Principal, commented: “Theo has been delivering great performances over the course of this season, as well as during the previous years; we have been working closely with him for almost four years now, as a member of our Academy, and we have been impressed by his constant progress and development as a driver first and, equally importantly, as a person.
“We are delighted to give him his first Free Practice outing next week, it’s a well-deserved opportunity, and I’m confident he will once again impress us with his performances, as he will help the team gather valuable data ahead of the United States Grand Prix.”
Moreover, the Hinwil-based outfit also confirmed that from next season, Pourchaire will act as one of its reserve drivers while remaining a member of the Sauber Academy.
Currently, Formula 2 youngest-ever race winner stands second in Formula One feeder series.
Throughout his second season in the FIA Formula 2 championship, he has clinched three victories, stepping onto the podium on seven occasions, summing up 164 points with still two races to go.