Alfa Romeo Racing team boss Frédéric Vasseur says it would be a mistake to rush 17-year-old Sauber protégé Theo Pourchaire to Formula 1.
The talented teen was just 16 when he debuted in the FIA Formula 3 Championship with ART Grand Prix in 2020 and stunned the junior ranks when he became the series' youngest winner
Pourchaire missed out on the F3 crown in the season finale and finished just three points behind champion Oscar Piastri.
Stepping up to Formula 2 this season with ART GP, the highly rated Frenchman won his first race last month in Monaco, also becoming the series' youngest winner.
Vasseur - who nurtured the skills of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in the junior ranks - knows a great talent when he sees one. But the Alfa Romeo Racing team boss has no intention of fast-tracking his latest protégé's path to F1.
"We have a contract with Theo, but again I don't want to be in a rush with Theo, we have to keep in mind that he is 17," said Vasseur.
"If you compare with all the other talents coming into to F1 they are much older and I don't want to make any comparison with Lewis, Nico or Charles [Leclerc], they were much older and had bigger experience, and I think it will be a mistake to push him too early."
Vasseur says he'll assess Pourchaire's 2021 season in F2 at the end of his campaign and then take it from there.
"He will have to do the job in F2 first then we will have time to discuss later on," he added; "I was impressed by Theo [this year] but I was also impressed by Theo last year.
"For next year it is a bit too early as he has only done three races in F2 and if you remember in the past the guys were able to be champion or to have good results in the first year and in the last part of the season.
"He is more than young, he is 17 and still chasing a drivers licence and we have to let him have time to do the job. We are not in a rush but I think he is a very good one."
Pourchaire endured a minor setback recently when he suffered a fractured wrist after a first-lap collision during the F2 feature race in Baku.
But Vasseur reckons the young gun will be fit and well for F2's return to action at Silverstone next month.
"He had an issue on the arm but a small break," he said. "He looks okay and the doctor was very optimistic to let him go to Silverstone."