top of page

Taylor Barnard - The Underdog of Formula 3 in 2023

Written by Vyas Ponnuri, Edited by Umut Yelbaşı

You’ve heard of the underdog before, haven’t you?

They aren’t the favourites coming into an event, but find a way to awe you with some outstanding performances.

Barnard Racing at home in F3; Image credit - Dutch Photo Agency

Motor racing has seen its fair share of underdogs in the past. Remember Sergio Pérez and Pierre Gasly winning races in the Covid-shortened 2020 Formula 1 season? Or Pérez’s several podiums for Force India (and later Racing Point) who were mainly a midfield team? Who remembers Fernando Alonso’s sensational 2012 season with a difficult-to-tame Ferrari F2012?

On any given day, no one would expect them to take home the win. But when things fall into place, they’ve been in positions to grab the spotlight. The same could be said of Taylor Barnard’s Formula 3 exploits in 2023.

In a season largely dominated by Italian “alti papaveri”, or top dogs, Prema Racing and Trident, and the spotlight firmly on Gabriel Bortoleto’s consistency across the season, the rest were confined to background roles across the season.

You have Pepe Marti winning the odd race, and taking podiums frequently. You have Paul Aron wowing the field with his wet weather skills. You have Zak O'Sullivan who raced to second in the standings. Gabriele Mini and Dino Beganovic chipped in with the odd big result in between, while Franco Colapinto had a starring role for MP Motorsport.

All these drivers had their time under the spotlight, a perk of driving for the “top dogs” such as Prema Racing, Trident, Campos, and MP Motorsport. Barnard didn’t have this chance, driving for Jenzer Motorsport, a team you’d find much lower down the grid in the series. In 2023, the Spanish outfit amassed their highest-scoring season in the series, amassing 108 points, and their best-ever championship finishing position of sixth as a team.

Barnard started the season slow, but kicked into top gear towards the end of the season, finishing in the top ten of the standings — a reflection of how far he has come through the season. In fact, the young Briton finished well clear of his teammates Nikita Bedrin and Alex Garcia — who rounded out the season in 18th and 20th respectively.

Albert Park - the scene of Barnard’s first F3 points; Image credit - Dutch Photo Agency

While his teammates managed to break into the top ten only a combined four times, Barnard had a run of five consecutive points-scoring races in 2023 - and this was before his purple patch which he completed the season with. A defining season for the youngster, who had plunged into the grassroots of racing a decade ago.

Protege of one-time Formula One champion Nico Rosberg, and a figure in the Rosberg Racing Academy, the youngster from Norwich raced karts for the first time at the age of eight, in 2012. A year later, he headed over to the Super 1 National Championship, and remained in the series until 2017, a year that proved successful for the youngster, as he won the coveted championship, along with two further karting events.

Barnard moved to mainland Europe and spent another three years in karting, achieving yet more accolades along the way. Possessing a glittering karting resume, the youngster decided to move up to racing single-seaters.

Barnard kicked off his single-seater career in the Italian F4 Championship. After racing a few rounds for AKM Motorsport in 2020, the racer from Norwich stepped into a BWR Motorsports seat in 2021, in the ADAC F4 series, still under the guidance of Nico Rosberg. Although Barnard started the season well, he was forced to miss two rounds, later returning in the season finale. Thus, he was limited to a 17th place in the championship standings.

They say when one door closes, another one opens. For Taylor Barnard, this door appeared in the form of newcomers PHM Racing, who didn’t need much convincing. One look at this youngster’s stellar karting resume, and it was a done deal.

Barnard’s first test would be the F4 UAE Championship, and the 18-year-old brought home the team’s first-ever victory at the Yas Marina Circuit. Reliability issues would plague his campaign though, leaving him content with ninth in the standings. Barnard returned to the Italian F4 Championship with the German team, finishing eighth in the standings. He took a singular podium at Vallelunga, finishing second.

However, his amazing ADAC F4 campaign gave the world a hint of his racecraft and talent. Barnard would finish runner-up for debutants PHM Racing, amassing as many as five race wins. He was only behind none other than the sensational talent named Andrea Kimi Antonelli. The duo were in a league of their own, grabbing all but four victories that season. Barnard’s magnum opus was at the Lausitzring, where he took pole and won two of the three races, only losing out to teammate Bedrin in Race One.

Barnard and Bedrin’s strong showings caught the eye of one Andrea Jenzer, team principal at Jenzer Motorsport, and the duo took part in post-season testing for the Spanish outfit in late 2022, along with Euroformula racer Alex García. The trio were signed by the team for 2023.

Barnard made his F3 debut for Jenzer Motorsport in 2023; Image credit - Dutch Photo Agency

Barnard's F3 debut in Bahrain proved to be scoreless. However, he'd have to wait just one more round for points, as he finished in ninth place in Formula 3's first feature race in Australia.

Further points followed over a month later, this time on the twisty streets of Monaco. On a track where qualifying is king, Barnard qualified fifth in his group, putting him in a strong ninth for the main race.

He started fourth on the reverse grid, and came home fifth in the sprint race. Another strong showing on Sunday was rewarded with eighth place at the flag.

The next round at Catalunya saw Barnard put in a superb lap to qualify second for the feature race, quarter of a second behind pole-sitter, home hero Pepe Marti. However, that was as high as it got for the Jenzer racer, as he could only match his result from the sprint race a day prior - ninth place. Yet, it was still points, a rarity for home team Jenzer, and Barnard had extended his points-scoring streak to five races now.

Barnard qualified a sensational second at Barcelona; Image credit - Dutch Photo Agency

Unfortunately, his streak came to an abrupt halt at the Red Bull Ring. A tough qualifying left Barnard 18th on the grid, putting him on the backfoot for the rest of the weekend. He would finish two laps behind the race leader in the sprint, while a strong drive saw the Briton recover to 12th in the feature race.

Barnard would be dealt heartbreak at his home event around the Silverstone Circuit. A strong qualifying saw him start 10th on the grid for the feature race, translating to third for the sprint. Could Barnard convert this into a special home victory?

Unfortunately, it would all come crashing down for the young Jenzer driver - quite literally. A crash on the lap-13 safety car restart with race leader Sebastian Montoya put him out of the running, and Barnard would finish the race dead last, earning himself a 10-second penalty for his run-in with Montoya.

His feature race didn't pan out too well either, as he came home 21st at the flag, in a wet race. Barnard would miss out on points at the following round in Hungary too, finishing 11th and 14th in the two races of the weekend.

Barnard racing in the wet at Spa-Francorchamps; Image credit - Dutch Photo Agency

Barnard is one among many drivers who calls the great Ayrton Senna his hero and inspiration. The Jenzer racer was definitely inspired by Senna in the wet weather at the mighty Spa Francorchamps. Barnard qualified 10th on the grid, putting him third for the Saturday feature race. He would make use of this opportunity and net a big result - second, behind VAR racer Caio Collet.

The feature race though, was one the young Briton would call his best race of the season. A smart call to start on wets saw Barnard make it up to a net second place in the early stages of the race.

Oliver Goethe's off into the barriers at Eau Rouge brought out the safety car, erasing Aron's nine-second lead. And the Prema racer made a pit stop to dry tyres, rejoining the race in seventh place, which promoted Barnard to the lead of the race.

The threat of Aron would be neutralised soon, and Barnard's biggest challenger for the win emerged in the form of another unlikely name, Campos racer Christian Mansell.

The Jenzer racer withstood one major overtaking attempt from the Australian, and would go on to be untroubled thereafter, taking a special win for the Spanish team. It would be a field day for Jenzer Racing, with Nikita Bedrin taking his second podium of the season, and Alex García taking his first points of the season, with a fourth-place finish. A podium sweep was only denied by Mansell's runners-up finish.

Barnard took his maiden F3 win at Spa; Image credits - Dutch Photo Agency

Barnard would round out his season with another strong weekend around the Temple of Speed, Monza. Qualifying eighth for the race put him in fifth for the sprint race. Barnard would finish fourth at the flag, building on his new-found motivation. He then went one better the following day, finishing third on the road, withstanding multiple safety car restarts, and staying out of trouble. A last-lap pass on Collet fetched a spot on the podium for the Jenzer driver.

All in all, it was a stellar season for the youngster from Norwich. He certainly punched above his weight, comfortably outscoring his teammates, while his driving on track showed signs of a star in the making. While he was prone to the odd incident, like his skirmish with Montoya at Silverstone, and did face some inconsistency, there is no doubt Barnard is destined for a big future in motor racing.


bottom of page