Home Featured Formula Scout Top 50 Drivers of 2019: 40-31

Formula Scout Top 50 Drivers of 2019: 40-31

by Formula Scout
Part two of our countdown of 2019’s most impressive junior single-seater racers features no fewer than four championship winners

40. Jamie Chadwick

New entry
Made headlines with W Series and MRF Challenge titles

Chadwick won five of the first eight races she entered in 2019, and those wins contributed to her first two single-seater titles.

The first was the MRF Challenge, which was built on a strong end to 2018 that included her first BRDC British Formula 3 success and then three MRF wins in Bahrain. She was behind experienced Formula Renault racer Max Defourny going into the Chennai season finale, but a risk-averse style netted her the points lead ahead of the final day of racing.

Two classy wins, one earned by sneaking past her rivals at the start, meant she became the first female winner of an international single-seater title since Alice Powell’s 2014 Asian Formula Renault triumph.

An Asian F3 cameo resulted in Chadwick’s eighth top five finish in F3 since 2017, and greater results would come once she returned to the Tatuus T-318 Regional F3 car in the all-female W Series.

Living up to her billing as favourite, Chadwick was the quickest driver in the first half of the season, taking two wins and two poles while rivals had varying form. Shortly afterwards, she became a Williams Formula 1 junior.? Her authority at the top reduced after that, but with only one race off the podium, she was a deserving champion, closing out the title at Brands Hatch under unprecedented levels of pressure and scrutiny.

Chadwick arguably made a greater impact than any junior single-seater driver in 2019. But, as her end-of-year return to Asian F3 showed, there is still some work to do to prove herself against stronger opposition. Whether she even gets a fair chance at that is a crucial test in itself for W Series.

39. Leonardo Pulcini

Down 19
Combative Silverstone win the highlight of mixed FIA F3 campaign

Pulcini was understandably tipped by many as a pre-season favourite coming into the new-look FIA F3, thanks to a combination of his strong run in GP3 in 2018 with Campos and his speed in testing after joining the well-resourced Hitech. But, one year on from his GP3 pole at the circuit, he struggled to 18th in qualifying for the first round at Barcelona, and ended the weekend without getting close to troubling the points, hampered by technical issues.

And although things got better, Pulcini was never the factor in Saturday races that would have been expected. His best qualifying result was sixth, and his best race one result was fourth.

One way Pulcini did stand out in a field stacked with talent was with some assertive racecraft, which helped him to take his sole victory at Silverstone. In Hitech’s best performance of the season at its home track – with team-mate Juri Vips winning race one – Pulcini took fourth in the opener and then charged from fifth on the grid to win race two.

He passed both Robert Shwartzman and Christian Lundgaard on the first lap, and while Pedro Piquet struggled to find a way past Liam Lawson, Pulcini was able to overtake both, making an exquisite outside move on Lawson.

While spectacular, his style also got him into difficulty at times, such as when he tangled with Jake Hughes over second place in the final race of the season at Sochi.

Pulcini made another return to Campos for his Macau Grand Prix debut, and it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see him back with the Spanish squad again in 2020.

38. Zane Maloney

New entry
Dominant streak helped single-seater rookie to British F4 title

Zane Maloney became the first car racing rookie to win the British Formula 4 (and preceding British Formula Ford) title since Jenson Button in 1998. But despite a dominant mid-season run, it came down to a final-race showdown.

The Barbadian almost won his second race in the championship at Brands Hatch Indy, but a clash with Luke Browning while leading dropped him to seventh and meant he had to wait until race eighth of the year at Thruxton to stand on the top step.

By this point he had already taken three rookie class wins, the same amount as Carlin team-mate Joe Turney, but Maloney then went on an unbeaten run of seven races, which was only technically interrupted by a one-lap race in the wet at Croft.

His highs were so high that a sum of three wins and two other podiums in the season’s second half was enough to win the title by 20 points after a dramatic final four races.

In the final race at Silverstone he and title rival Sebastian Alvarez collided and failed to finish, and Maloney then clashed with Alvarez’s Double R Racing team-mate and title outsider Louis Foster on the way to victory in the first race of the Brands Hatch Grand Prix finale. Alvarez won race two to pinch the points lead, but retirement in the title decider and a 10th win of the season for Maloney meant Carlin won its fourth drivers’ title out of four.

Further reading
Scout Report: Zane Maloney

37. Hadrien David

New entry
Latest French talent crowned in domestic F4 series

David went into French F4 among the expected contenders, having shown promise in karts, but probably delivered a performance level above and beyond that in his first season in single-seaters.

The double pole he achieved at the opening round at Nogaro was something he managed in five out of seven rounds. He had a little bit of difficulty turning them all into wins – a total of six victories giving him a 60 per cent conversion rate – but the incidents and errors behind that were nothing unusual for a driver finding their feet in car racing.

It did mean that he had to work hard to win the championship, up against a second-year driver in Reshad de Gerus, who was only 13.5 points adrift after his double win in the penultimate round at Magny-Cours. But even though de Gerus had a woeful final round, David impressively kept his head to clinch the title in style.

Gauging the level in French F4 is never easy, but David also made a respectable mid-season cameo in ADAC F4 with R-ace GP, and took six wins from eight starts in the South East Asian series.

Having already trained alongside friend Esteban Ocon, David has been taken under the wing of his compatriot’s former manager Eric Boullier, and should be set for a place on the Renault Sport Academy as a prize for his title. A move up to Formula Renault also seems likely, after testing for MP Motorsport.

Further reading
Scout Report: Hadrien David

36. Juan Manuel Correa

New entry
Impressed with F2 podiums, and with courage after Spa tragedy?

Correa has won the hearts of many with his brave battle against the injuries sustained in the Spa Formula 2 crash that claimed the life of Anthoine Hubert, and the incident cut short a promising campaign for the American.

He had struggled to make much of an impression in GP3 but – despite what was seen as a premature step up – did that early on in F2.

He couldn’t rival team-mate Callum Ilott in qualifying, never getting inside the top 10, but could still outperform him in races with superior tyre management.?This allowed him to finish seventh in the feature races in Baku and at Paul Ricard, and in both cases he converted them into second place in the subsequent sprint races.

It would be easy to dismiss those results as the results of reversed grids. But in F2, it just isn’t possible to stay at the front of a reversed-grid race without displaying great pace and racecraft against the championship’s best drivers.

As demonstrated by the likes of Antonio Giovinazzi and Charles Leclerc, Baku is the easiest place for the top drivers to come through the field, but Correa impressively held his own with a resolute defence against feature race winner Jack Aitken. And in France, he re-passed a fast-starting Aitken for second and then kept pace with leader Hubert.

With the backing to get private testing with the Alfa Romeo team earlier in the year, Correa was showing the potential on-track to contend for an F1 seat in the future with a multi-year run in F2.

Such thoughts are on pause for now, but those hopes could have ended altogether after the complications he developed from his injuries. Having already shown remarkable strength to overcome them, Correa then chose to undergo complex surgery, which doctors would deem a success.

When and how he makes any return to the track remains to be seen, but nobody can doubt Correa’s will and determination to make it happen.

35. Igor Fraga

New entry
Esports star shone on the track in Formula Regional

After racing throughout the Americas, Fraga switched to competing in Europe for 2019, and immediately found success in the new Formula Regional European Championship.

It was a series dominated by Prema, but Fraga was consistently the best of the rest, driving for the partnership between DR Formula and RP Motorsport. He began the year with a brace of podiums at Paul Ricard, and then bounced back from a difficult couple of weeks at Vallelunga and Budapest to take his maiden series win in Austria.

A first pole position and four podiums from four races followed at Imola, before he rounded off his year with a clean sweep of poles at Monza, converting two of those into his third and fourth wins of 2019.

Compared to the majority of the other frontrunners, he had far less testing or preparation prior to most events and the esports star had to juggle his Formula Regional campaign with the defence of his GT Sport crown.

Fraga has signed up to race in the Toyota Racing Series with M2 Competition over the winter ahead of a likely step up to FIA F3, where he’s tested with Carlin and Charouz.

He?ll have defending series champion Liam Lawson alongside him in TRS as well another Red Bull junior Yuki Tsunoda – both will serve as excellent barometers of Fraga?s potential.

34. Clement Novalak

New entry
Took British F3 title with unrivalled consistency

After bursting into single-seaters by winning in the Toyota Racing Series in early 2018, Novalak probably bit off more than he could chew last year by combining BRDC British F3 with Formula Renault Eurocup, and struggled in both. Focussing purely on British F3 this time around was a wise call, and ended up with him adding his name to the illustrious list of champions.

The Swiss-raised Frenchman competing on a British licence surprised nobody when he won the first race of the season at Oulton Park. What was a surprise was that only one other victory followed, in the third round at Silverstone. The Carlin driver managed just six other podiums across a 24-race season.

But Novalak was never headed in the championship fight, having finished (and thus scored) in every race, and not even finished outside the top 10 until the penultimate race – the one in which he sealed the title.

He was also particularly effective in the championship’s novel full reversed-grid races, where points were on offer for every place gained. The extra points he gained over Johnathan Hoggard in that regard alone almost accounted for his entire final title-winning margin of 23 points.

To come through the field without incident so often was impressive from a driver who’s still very early in his career, and could be bound for FIA F3 next year.

33. Richard Verschoor

Up 13
Scored stunning debut Macau win after under-the-radar F3 season

Despite a few good results along the way, Verschoor could easily have ended 2019 as one of many who struggled to truly catch the eye in FIA F3. Instead, he ended it winning the biggest race in junior single-seaters, producing the greatest Macau Grand Prix upset of the decade when he defeated Juri Vips.

In a way, this was nothing new from Verschoor, who in previous seasons would impress in the Toyota Racing Series at the start of the year – he won twice as many races as Robert Shwartzman and Marcus Armstrong combined in 2018 – and then struggle on his return to Europe.

Of course, the differences between teams played a massive part in FIA F3 this year, and goes some way to explaining why Verschoor (who enjoys loyal support from MP Motorsport) was no rival for the aforementioned Prema drivers this time around.

Verschoor was generally overshadowed by his team-mate Liam Lawson, but perhaps there’s no shame in that. Anyway, he beat Lawson when he charged from 14th to fourth in race two at Paul Ricard, and outscored him at Monza when he finished fourth in both races, even though it was Lawson ending the weekend on the podium.

The performances of both drivers on the Sunday of Macau showed they lack little in ability. On his first time there, or on any serious street circuit, Verschoor was quick from the start of the weekend and took his chances when they came. Unexpected it might have been, but it was a timely reminder of how good he can be on his day.

Further reading
How the all-rookie Dutch combination conquered Macau

32. Alexander Smolyar

New entry
SMP protege proved his potential with three Eurocup wins

In the battle to be second-best driver from the two top teams in the Formula Renault Eurocup, it was R-ace GP’s Smolyar who trumped MP Motorsport’s Lorenzo Colombo in both the points and in performances.

On one-lap pace, SMP Racing junior Smolyar was a match for champion team-mate Oscar Piastri and MP’s Victor Martins, but only claimed two pole positions and had several races where he started down the grid.

Despite this, he had the fourth highest qualifying average and in addition to three wins took six second places and one third place – just one podium fewer than Piastri.

Smolyar was at his best early in the season, and would have won on three successive race weekends were it not for a technical problem at Silverstone while leading.

While Piastri and Martins pushed each other to new heights late in the season, and Smolyar’s qualifying form dipped, the Russian did add a highlight by dominating the wet second race at Hockenheim, having already proven his skill in mixed conditions at Monza.

Post-season he joined Charouz for one day of the post-season FIA F3 test at Valencia, and impressed by going third fastest behind two series regulars driving for ART. He’ll join the French team in the championship next year, which is a tantalising prospect if it can extract the most from his potential.

Further reading
Scout Report: Alexander Smolyar

31. Johnathan Hoggard

New entry
Claimed seven British F3 wins before award triumph

Hoggard’s name was thrust into the wider consciousness when he won the Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Award earlier this month, but not before he’d claimed 13 wins in the space of 13 months.

After his late spree in British F4 in 2018 gave him more wins there than anyone else, he achieved the same after stepping up to BRDC British F3. Fast from the start, he took seven wins in total – more than double what anyone else could manage.

As in F4, he fell short in the fight for the title, finishing runner-up to Novalak as inconsistency and a number of incidents cost him dearly. The two Donington Park rounds were Hoggard’s season in a nutshell: in both June and September he won both main races from pole, but had contact in the second race with a championship rival.

Few were in any doubt though that Hoggard was British F3’s quickest driver in 2019, and his award win was confirmation of his potential, given the rigorous assessment process.

As something of a protege of Fortec Motorsports and Richard Dutton, it remains to be seen where he will go next, but he has tested FIA F3 with Charouz, where ex-Fortec man Jamie Dye is team manager.

Click here to view the rest of the 2019 Top 50