Home Featured Formula Scout Top 50 Drivers of 2022: 50-41

Formula Scout Top 50 Drivers of 2022: 50-41

by Formula Scout
Kicking off Formula Scout’s annual end-of-year ranking of the best performers in the junior single-seater ranks

50. Taylor Barnard

New entry • F4 underdog took ADAC wins against Prema and in its absence

Limited by funding so far in his single-seater career, former European karting frontrunner Barnard linked up for 2022 with the new PHM Racing project that sets out to help drivers like him through its not-for-profit objective.

Barnard delivered PHM a win on its debut weekend in the United Arab Emirates in January, though was generally second-best to team-mate Nikita Bedrin over the rest of that campaign. But when they returned to Europe to contest the German and Italian series, it was Barnard that would have the upper hand.

The Briton managed to beat the all-conquering Andrea Kimi Antonelli to a pair of wins at the Nurburgring in August, and then scored another two wins in Prema’s absence from the Lausitzring. That ensured Antonelli had to return for the Nurburgring finale to clinch his crown, and Barnard would take another victory there. Success was harder to come by for PHM in the far better-supported Italian series, Barnard achieving a sole podium, but it looks set to grant him an FIA Formula 3 seat for 2023 via a Formula Regional Middle East programme.

49. Reece Gold

New entry • Second best in Indy Pro 2000 to continue his climb

Gold is a reliable performer, and improver, who is progressing up the single-seater ladder with a good momentum.

He was 10th then third in two USF2000 seasons with top team Cape Motorsports, then progressed to Indy Pro 2000 with Juncos Hollinger Racing and has finished fifth and second in his two seasons. It will be interesting to see how his rookie Indy Nxt season goes in 2023.

As for his second IP2000 campaign, Gold netted four wins and five poles to beat his experienced team-mate Enaam Ahmed to be championship runner-up. Three of his wins came from pole, and he usually looked comfortable when leading races.

The second of his four victories came on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course where those ahead and behind on the grid managed to crash into each other or remove themselves from contention and Gold came through the chaos to win.

48. Marcus Armstrong

Re-entry • Third and final season in F2 was his most positive, despite coming 13th again

To have finished 13th in the Formula 2 standings in each of the past three seasons is a stark contrast to the preceding first three full years of Armstrong’s single-seater career, when he won the Italian Formula 4 title, starred in the old European F3 and fought for the title in its replacement, the FIA F3 Championship. But despite the apparent lack of progress suggested by the standings, this was the best of Armstrong’s campaigns in F2.

After splitting from the Ferrari Driver Academy and joining his former manager Oliver Oakes’ Hitech GP team, Armstrong appeared more relaxed and confident. There were three victories, all of them in reversed-grid sprint races, which offered a reduced number of points in 2022. When out front in those races, he was hard to beat, converting all three of his front-row starts on Saturdays into wins.

There was an improvement in qualifying too – he ranked sixth on single-lap ‘supertimes’, three places behind team-mate Juri Vips, and started on the front row for the Hungaroring feature race and third on two other occasions. But despite also having the fourth best race pace of the full-time drivers, a feature race podium somehow eluded him.

After enduring three such mysterious years in F2, Armstrong must be relishing his chance to race on IndyCar road and street courses with Chip Ganassi Racing next year, learning the ropes from his hero Scott Dixon.

47. Christian Rasmussen

Down 18 • Indy Lights rookie couldn’t challenge for third straight title, but did win twice

Rasmussen came into 2022 with the chance of replicating Kyle Kirkwood’s Road to Indy ‘three-peat’ but came up some way short. Regardless, it was a strong rookie campaign with plenty of highs and he goes into 2023 as one of Indy Nxt’s clear-cut title favourites.

The potential was on display early on in – Rasmussen led on his debut in St. Petersburg, only to run out of fuel, before the Linus Lundqvist/HMD Motorsports partnership really kicked up a notch after that. By round six, Rasmussen had just one podium to his name – and had a disastrous double retirement in Detroit – which effectively made his title push done before it ever really got going.

But Rasmussen took his first victory at Road America – the scene of a very nasty crash for him in 2021 – in a convincing fashion in June, before following that up with a commanding drive to win the season finale at Laguna Seca to conclude a second half of the season with strong, consistent drives in what felt like an Indy Lights field with more strength in depth than in some recent seasons.

Rasmussen was not too far off the ultimate pace in 2022, with what was likely not the strongest package, and that made a strong case for him to sneak into the top 50 with our writers.

46. Alessandro Giusti

New entry • Became French F4 champion with just two outright wins along the way

There can be little escaping the fact that Alessandro Giusti was not the strongest French F4 driver in 2022. He finished first on just two occasions compared to Hugh Barter’s 10, a fact that will be reflected in their relative positions in this list.

With Barter racing at Spa and at Valencia in Spanish F4 before the French series visited those tracks, the championship permitted the Australian to take part in those rounds but only as a ‘ghost’ driver ineligible for points. With that, Giusti knew he could safely finish second to his rival and still gain 25 points on him.

To Giusti’s credit, his speed improved during the year with the new second-generation Mygale F4 car and he swept qualifying for each of the last three rounds – converting the second of his two poles at Ledenon into victory and doing the same in the Paul Ricard finale when the title was already secured. But it was the intervening event in Valencia that was key, allowing Giusti to come from behind to stand on the brink of the title.

Still, when Barter’s situation provided an opportunity, Giusti did well to step up and take it when nobody else could. He would have earned more plaudits for beating Barter on track more often, but did what he needed to earn the title, knowing the value it could bring to his future.

45. Joshua Dufek

New entry • Almost snatched FREC rookie title with late podium streak

Dufek’s season was very much the football cliché – a game of two halves. Staying with Van Amersfoort Racing for the step up from F4 to the Formula Regional European Championship, it wasn’t until after the season’s midpoint that his season really began.

In the first five rounds he scored just two points but from Hungary onwards, he was on sparkling form. He took a maiden podium behind team-mate Kas Haverkort in Austria, passing Dudu Barrichello, champion Dino Beganovic and then Pierre-Louis Chovet at the final corner for second, before following it up with third in race two the next day. A third successive rookie triumph followed next time out in Barcelona to keep him in contention for rookie honours at the final round in Mugello. A front-row start and another outstanding drive saw him close on the rookie title until a brush with another car after a late safety car put an end to his hopes.

Dufek was one of the drivers who came on strongest in 2022, and his commitment and enthusiasm helped drive the team forward. That he gained the upper hand on team-mate Haverkort in the final rounds is testament to how much he had developed over the season. The experience from running in the FRMEC with PHM Racing should prepare him thoroughly for a second season in FREC, most probably back with VAR.

44. Leonardo Fornaroli

New entry • Remarkable consistency in bumper FREC field earned rookie title

The statistics behind Fornaroli’s run to the rookie title in FREC are remarkable in more ways than one. He finished all 20 races, 15 of them inside the top 10. Yet he didn’t achieve an overall podium, nor an individual rookie victory.

FREC is proving to be a difficult championship for even the most highly-rated of rookies, and Fornaroli’s sheer consistency was hugely impressive when the field is so deep with talent and race incidents are so common in the midfield especially. He also did it with a new entrant at this level in Trident, which should be commended for coming in and being so consistently on the pace itself, even if it never really had the peaks to challenge for victories.

Team-mate Tim Tramnitz was more highly-rated stepping up from F4 and generally had a narrow edge on pace over Fornaroli, taking four rookie wins himself but left to rue the mechanical issues his colleague avoided. But for the Italian, the step up to Trident’s very effective FIA F3 squad for 2023 is every bit deserved.

43. Kas Haverkort

Re-entry • Took two FREC wins in all-Dutch alliance with VAR

Moving across the Netherlands from MP Motorsport to Van Amersfoort Racing for his sophomore season in FREC, Haverkort played a major role in helping the team bounce back from a difficult season in 2021. Haverkort was on the pace from the off, taking top five finishes in eight of the first nine races. Although disqualification for a technical infringement cost him a maiden series podium at Imola he made amends immediately with third at Monaco.

He was the only driver from outside the “Big Three” teams to take a victory. At the Hungaroring he recorded a clean sweep of pole position, a dominant race win and fastest lap, while at the Red Bull Ring he kept calm in changing weather conditions to storm from 14th on the grid, picking off Chovet for the lead on the penultimate lap.

Though his season tailed off slightly as team-mate Dufek came to the fore, he can look back on a superb, if slightly below-the-radar season. The team appreciated his huge contribution to the squad’s development and a continuation of their cooperation seems likely for 2023, Haverkort having already set the pace for VAR in post-season testing.

42. Michael d’Orlando

New entry • Grabbed crucial USF2000 crown in final round showdown

Having come second in 2021 as a series sophomore, d’Orlando had to win the title this year as he stayed on with Cape Motorsports.

He got the job done, but in a series as closely contested as USF2000 it was a continually tense ride that had its highs – four wins and five poles – but also lows such as clashes with rivals.

D’Orlando became the first two-time winner of the Freedom 75, the series’ sole oval race, and stayed out of trouble better than his rivals from Pabst Racing in the final round at Portland. That culminated with victory in the third and last race of the weekend for d’Orlando, which moved him back into the points lead and therefore made him champion.

There’s now a wait to see how he can use his scholarship prize on stepping up to USF Pro 2000.

41. Myles Rowe

New entry • Battled funding woes to earn next step, despite missing USF2000 title

USF2000 title contender Myles Rowe only made it through the season thanks to IndyCar series owner Penske Entertainment.

The company, owned by Team Penske founder Roger Penske, funded Rowe’s rookie season in USF2000 last year with the Force Indy team it supported and was already a major backer of his 2022 campaign.

Rowe was originally left without a drive for this season when Force Indy switched its programme to Indy Lights, but he found a seat at Pabst Racing for at least the first two rounds when Penske put in $200,000 on the eve of the opening round.

However a major crash while fighting for the win in the first race racked up a hefty repair bill that left Rowe seeking finances to reach round two, even after he won the second St. Petersburg race.

Money was found for Barber Motorsports Park, where he claimed another win, a pole and the points lead, helping his financial search further. He got just enough to do round three, where he took one podium from three races and dropped to fourth in the standings.

At this point Penske stepped in again to finance the remaining five rounds, and Rowe then went on a podium and win run. He lost the points lead, and therefore the title in the year’s final race after an incident-filled weekend but has deservedly already secured his graduation up to USF Pro 2000.