Alfa Romeo Team Representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi says the side is evaluating the Formula 1 testing opportunities available to Theo Pourchaire next year.

The team, which is set to revert back to the Sauber moniker ahead of its transition to Audi in 2026, confirmed ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend that Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu would be retained.

That announcement has ruled out Pourchaire being promoted to an F1 race seat, with the 20-year-old set to remain as the Hinwil squad’s reserve driver for next year.

Pourchaire currently leads the Formula 2 Drivers’ Championship by 25 points over Mercedes junior Frederik Vesti with only a solitary round in Abu Dhabi remaining.

But with the prospect of the Frenchman being left without a full-time racing schedule in 2024, Alunni Bravi claims it’s evaluating the ideal programme for Pourchaire to be best prepared for a future F1 drive.

“We are ready to make a deal,” he said on Friday in Singapore when asked about Pourchaire being overlooked for a 2024 race seat with the Sauber-owned squad.

“Of course, first of all, as I said, we keep him as a part of our drivers’ line-up. He will be the reserve driver next year. We are discussing together which will be the best racing programme for him to be ready to jump into the F1 car.

“No doors are closed for him in the future. We just felt that will be the best choice for the team, to keep our driver line-up also for next year and this doesn’t exclude any opportunity for him in the future. We have seen with Felipe Drugovich – maybe we have seen in the past that is not… with [Oscar] Piastri as well – that after one year in Formula 2, if there is not actual chance to be a race driver, this doesn’t exclude the possibility for the team to appoint in the future.

“We just need to look at what is the best programme for him. We want him to stay close to the F1 team because this year we asked him to be fully focused in Formula 2 and he’s doing well. I think and I hope that he will win the championship in Abu Dhabi.”

Theo Pourchaire (FRA) Alfa Romeo F1 Team Reserve Driver. 02.03.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir, Bahrain, Preparation Day.

Alunni Bravi pinpoints that the team hasn’t previously possessed the budget to run an older generation car for testing purposes like other sides notoriously have in the past.

However, the Italian underlines it is one of the options they are considering moving forward for Pourchaire’s development.

“Maybe we can also see for him which will be the best to be ready and to be prepared,” he continued. “Let’s imagine that, compared to other teams, we don’t have an old car like Aston Martin, like McLaren, or Mercedes to do a proper testing programme for a driver – and this is a big limitation – maybe this will be available for him next year.

“We are discussing internally; of course budget-wise this is something that for a team is quite expensive but we want to see all the opportunities but for a driver like him, the doors are open. We just need to see the best programme to be ready.”

Pressed on whether Pourchaire would be the driver to fulfil Alfa Romeo’s obligation to run a rookie, defined as a driver with two or less F1 starts, in two FP1 sessions this year, Alunni Bravi said: “Yeah, he will be doing FP1 sessions. We are looking at the best options.

“As you know, the second part of the season we have still a Sprint format weekend or new circuits like Qatar and Las Vegas, so opportunities are quite few but we think that we are targeting Mexico and Abu Dhabi. So we will decide in the next few weeks the best programme for him.”

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