Frederic Vasseur says Formula 1 would be “brutal” for Theo Pourchaire given his lack of experience, hence why Alfa Romeo did not promote him.
The Swiss-based team were the last on the grid to confirm their driver line-up for the 2022 campaign.
While it was announced relatively early that Valtteri Bottas would replace Kimi Raikkonen, who would partner the Finn remained unclear for quite some time with Pourchaire, Guanyu Zhou, Antonio Giovinazzi, Oscar Piastri and Colton Herta all contenders.
Zhou was ultimately chosen despite the fact he was from Alpine’s academy, while Pourchaire is a part of their own young driver pool.
Vasseur says that is because Pourchaire lacks experience, having driven only one full season in Formula 2, and giving him the seat was therefore too much of a risk for both the driver and the team.
“He drove a fantastic season in Formula 2 but he is only 18 years old. And he has moved up very quickly from Formula 4 to Formula 3 and Formula 2,” the team principal said, quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.
“We were already surprised by his Formula 3 results. Then he got to grips with Formula 2 extremely quickly and won Monaco and was always ahead in qualifying.
“From my point of view, he is impressive. But I don’t want to put him under too much pressure. It would be too risky to bring him into Formula 1 straight away.
“You only have one bullet in the barrel there. If the first season goes wrong, the career can also be over. Theo still needs to gain experience to make the final step.
“He should win the championship next year. Then we will see. He remains on our radar and with us in the team.”
— Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN (@alfaromeoracing) November 16, 2021
While Zhou will be an F1 rookie himself, he will be a somewhat experienced one being 22 and racing in Formula 2 for three full seasons before making the step up.
Vasseur feels that is important and thinks it would have been “brutal” for Pourchaire if he had joined the grid at this point in his career and could well have ruined it.
“It plays a role,” he added.
“Pourchaire was still driving Formula 4 18 months ago. There is a risk of burning him in Formula 1. The circus is brutal.
“You can be the biggest star today and the loser tomorrow.”