Theo Pourchaire has explained that a problem with the brake system restricted him to only four out laps for Alfa Romeo during FP1 at the Mexico City Grand Prix.
The end-of-season period has witnessed the teams scramble to ensure they fulfil the regulation mandating that every driver has to give up an FP1 session for a competitor who has started fewer than two grands prix.
Subsequently, Pourchaire was one of five rookies involved in the opening practice hour at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
However, Pourchaire, taking over from Valtteri Bottas, reported trouble with the brake pedal on each of the four occasions he was sent out onto the track by the team.
Clarifying the hitch that curtailed his running, Pourchaire said: “Small problem on the brake system. I cannot go too much into details, and also the team is not 100% sure where it comes from.
“But it’s motorsport, it can happen. Unfortunately, it happens when I’m in the car for the FP1. A bit disappointed for sure because I prepared myself a lot. And last time I drove it was in Abu Dhabi last year, so it was a long time ago.
“I wanted to drive, the track looks cool. I did some small laps, but I couldn’t push as it was not so safe to push, that’s how it is.”
Pourchaire believes Alfa Romeo will have to change something on its C43 in the break to ensure Bottas can sustain a smoother participation in the second session.
Asked if he could feel the issue instantly, Pourchaire replied: “Yeah, straight away. I had an alarm on the dashboard. The team could see as well on the telemetry, the issue.
“We tried many things to solve the issue, but it didn’t work. I think they have to change something on the car, so right now they are going to check everything between FP1 and FP2, and hopefully Valtteri can drive in FP2.”
Alfa Romeo is yet to confirm who will carry out their second rookie outing and at which venue – but it is suspected that Pourchaire will occupy Zhou Guanyu’s seat in Abu Dhabi.
Next weekend’s Brazil Grand Prix will be interrupted by the Sprint format, while the penultimate round of the season in Las Vegas presents a new track configuration.
Regardless of what transpires on the F1 front, Pourchaire insists that his primary focus in Abu Dhabi will remain on securing the Formula 2 championship title.
The Frenchman upholds a 25-point lead over Frederik Vesti – who was also featuring in FP1 in Mexico for Mercedes, wounding up the slowest of those to set a lap time.
“I would be full focused on the F2 in Abu Dhabi,” Pourchaire declared. “Let’s see if I will be driving in FP1 there. But that’s most probably the only track where I can drive again in F1 so let’s see.
“As I said, full focus on the F2 championship; it’s my main goal, and I want to finish on a high my Formula 2 career. I have a title to win, I have two titles to win because there is a team championship as well, so I think we can do great in Abu Dhabi. Let’s see, maybe I will be back in the F1 very soon.”
Pourchaire hadn’t competed at a race weekend since the European leg of the F1 calendar ended at the start of September with the F2 support race at Monza.
Asked how much preparation he had undertaken ahead of this opportunity, the 20-year-old answered: “A lot of preparation because also we had a lot of time – the last F2 race was in Monza so I had nothing to do except a lot of simulator with the Formula 1 team. A lot of physical prep, mental prep.
“Of course I didn’t know I could have an issue like this. I was just focusing on my job and ready to push, but yeah. Of course disappointed but it’s okay. It’s a part of motorsport.”