For once, let’s take a look at single-seaters this week, thanks to the results achieved by Théo Pourchaire and Victor Martins in FIA F2. The news was widely reported: Théo won the 2023 F2 title while Victor was confirmed as the best rookie of the year, a result enhanced by the Anthoine Hubert Trophy.
Both members of the FFSA Equipe de France Circuit, they share other similarities such as having started out in motorsport in the French F4 Championship run by the FFSA Academy. Going further back, they also had a successful start in karting. Their paths have crossed several times, most notably on a memorable evening in November 2016 on the CIK-FIA podium in Bahrain, when Victor was crowned Junior World Champion and Théo, a year and a half younger, took 3rd place.
Victor’s karting career was exceptionally fast. Two years in the Cadet category in France were enough for him to get to grips with the specifics of the discipline, and he was able to give his all in his first Junior international season in 2016. In just a few months, the former gymnast went from near-beginner in France to 3rd in the European Championship and then directly to World Champion, which is rare enough to deserve a mention. His VDK Racing team would have liked to continue for at least another year in the top category with such a phenomenon, but F4 was already attractive to the prodigy from the Paris region.
Théo and his entourage, on the other hand, have a real passion for karting and the Grasse driver got off to an early start. After Minikart at the age of eight, he began to achieve good results in the Minime class, then in the Cadet class at national level. Trained in racing by Nicolas Moni (Jana Racing), he learnt every aspect of the driver’s job, not counting the time he spent on the track from the beginning to the end of the year. In the process, he won three French Championships and two French Cups, while his elder sister Pauline won the French Women’s Cup. Immediately competitive in international competition like Victor in OK-Junior, Théo continued for another season in OK without much sparkle, before switching to single-seaters.
The French F4 Championship is another common ground between the two champions. Victor shone there in 2017, with a 2nd place in his first season, missing out on the title by just four points. Théo followed suit in 2018, finishing 3rd in the Championship and best Junior (under 16s). The FFSA Academy contributed to their training in F4 and continued its work a little later under the banner of the FFSA Circuit French Team.
Théo is now on the doorstep of F1, as his status as an Alfa Romeo / Sauber reserve driver has not yet opened the door. He will spend the 2024 season in Japan in Super Formula, as Pierre Gasly did a few years earlier, while waiting for more favourable conditions. Audi’s arrival in F1 with the Sauber structure for 2026 could offer a great opportunity. Victor, who is linked to Alpine F1, will be aiming for the F2 title next year and will be on the lookout for an opening in F1 at the same time.
These two pure products of the French motorsport industry have so far confirmed the hopes they raised in karting. Let’s hope it lasts!
It would be unfair not to mention the hopeful status of Isack Hadjar, who also went through the FFSA Academy, starting in karting before making a strong impression in the French F4 Championship. A member of the Red Bull Junior Team, he will be contesting his second F2 season next year at the age of 19. He had the honour of driving Max Verstappen’s RB 19 in the first Free Practice session of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix last weekend.
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