Several drivers went into the 2022 F2 season with expectations of title success, but all left thoroughly outshined by a third-year driver reuniting with an underdog and a brilliant technical plan
The record-length 28-race season provided more opportunities than ever to assess a field packed with Formula 1 juniors and several names who have already gone on to secure seats in top-level single-seater series for 2023.
Although there was no doubting among the Formula Scout team who would be rated number one in that field, there was far more debate over whether the rest of the list for the year’s top 10 drivers would look similar to the top 10 in the points table.
After analysing all of the various data and taking into consideration the respective performances of the teams as well as the drivers’ individual highs and lows, each writer gave their top 10. The average of those formed a combined list, after which there was a team debate to determine the final order.
Juri Vips claimed two poles and a win but threw away his F1 chances with a stupid remark online and was more mistake-prone than he should be with his level of experience, Frederik Vesti had an incredible Monza weekend where he finished second twice, and also won in Baku, but lost confidence multiple times through the year, and Ralph Boschung had a neck injury interrupt another impressive campaign with Campos Racing that included two podiums.
Key Percentage of team’s points scored (TP), Average qualifying position (QA), Feature race points (FR), Sprint race points (SR), Laps led (LL)
10. Jehan Daruvala INDIA Carlin
7th in standings, 113pts (1 win, 2 fastest laps, 8 podiums) – TP 52.3%, QA 9.7 (9th), FR 72 (10th), SR 54 (3rd), LL 65 (5th)
Ida Wood (12th): Aside from the champion, Daruvala was possibly the most consistent driver on the grid. But with the same level of experience as 2022’s dominator, his results should have looked more similar to his too.
He sat third in the standings for much of the season’s first half, during which time he scored in 12 out of 14 races and earned five podiums including a great drive from 14th to third in the Jeddah feature race combining canny passes on the narrow track and a strong strategy. But as the less experienced drivers came to grips with F2, Daruvala had an underwhelming second half to his year with five points finishes. Three of those were podiums, including a long-awaited maiden feature race win.
Alejandro Alonso Lopez (9th): Undoubtedly, it wasn’t Prema’s year and both Daruvala and Dennis Hauger suffered it. However, the Indian maximised the opportunities that arose during the season’s first half, mainly in the sprint races, and was fourth in the standings with 80 points after Silverstone. Consistency was keeping him in the battle for second in the championship at this point.
Unfortunately the trend changed, and only Paul Ricard and Monza came close to what had been seen during the year’s first half. At the Temple of Speed, he finally won a feature race, although his charge to the podium in Jeddah remained the highlight of his campaign.
9. Dennis Hauger NORWAY Prema
10th in standings, 115pts (2 wins, 3 fastest laps, 4 podiums) – TP 47.7%, QA 11.0 (12th), FR 87 (6th), SR 28 (12th), LL 53 (8th)
Roger Gascoigne (9th): An assured FIA Formula 3 champion stepping up with the leading F2 team. But rather than mounting a title challenge, Hauger instead often languished in the midfield. Prema seemed to have lost its magic elixir and neither of its drivers ever looked entirely convincing. A miscommunication cost him dearly in Jeddah, but he made up for it with a flawless win at Monaco. The season highlight came in the Baku feature race, taking a fully deserved victory after harrying leader Juri Vips into a mistake. By the end of the year, he seemed to have found a rhythm at last, scoring in each of the last six races, including recovering to fourth after a drive-through penalty at Monza.
IW (10th): “Honestly, I’m feeling a bit lost right now,” said Hauger after a Hungaroring weekend in which he had retired from race one and finished 19th, with fastest lap in race two.
It was the middle of a six-race run without points for the rookie, and he didn’t score in more than two successive races until he reached the final round. But seven top-10 finishes in the last eight races, including a sprint race podium, meant he didn’t finish far behind his team-mate in the standings. It was a dissapointing year, and he deserved victory on his third F2 start in Jeddah before he erronously entered a closed pitlane, but his two street circuit wins in Monaco and Baku were superb.
8. Richard Verschoor THE NETHERLANDS Trident
12th in standings, 103pts (1 win, 3 fastest laps, 4 podiums) – TP 95.4%, QA 10.9 (11th), FR 71 (11th), SR 32 (7th), LL 92 (3rd)
RG (8th): With the budget to do a full season, Verschoor got off to a flying start with victory in Bahrain. A superb victory on the road at the Red Bull Ring, carving through from eighth on the grid to the lead in just eight laps as other more illustrious names floundered was sadly lost in the stewards’ room. He trounced his team-mate, scoring all but five of Trident’s points. Nine successive points finishes in the run-in showed his undoubted potential, but he was never able to recover from three pointless weekends in the spring. He’ll need to show more than occasional speed in his third season in F2.
IW (6th): One of four drivers to lead the championship, thanks to his win in the season opener, Verschoor also spent more time leading races than all but two drivers. So how come he finished 12th in the standings? After a stellar start in the Middle East, he only scored in three of the 16 races in Europe before the summer break and lost a win to not supplying an adequate fuel sample. But in the season’s final leg he showed brilliance again, being the third highest scorer across the last four rounds.
7. Enzo Fittipaldi BRAZIL Charouz Racing System
8th in standings, 126pts (6 podiums) – TP 96.9%, QA 11.9 (14th), FR 107 (5th), SR 19 (13th), LL 7 (14th)
RG (7th): While more fancied drivers elsewhere on this list often underperformed, one driver comfortably exceeded expectations: Fittipaldi. Running with backmarker team Charouz and still recovering from injuries incurred in a frightening crash in 2021, he failed to score in the first five races. Second at Imola seemed to give him and the team the boost they needed. He was rarely near the front in qualifying with the notable exceptions of Monaco and Spa; his three second places came from 15th, 12th and ninth on the grid as his racecraft combined with clever strategy calls by the team got the job done.
IW (7th): Although Fittipaldi lost out in each of the times he fought for a race win, the fact he was in that position in the first place was impressive. Even more so given his qualifying form did not look like it would produce such a productive season in terms of points and podiums.
On average he was outside of the top 10 on race pace and the top 15 on single-lap pace, but had the fifth highest feature race points haul. A great season from a driver who started the year recovering from a scary injury picked up in a 2021 crash.
6. Liam Lawson NEW ZEALAND Carlin
3rd in standings, 149pts (4 wins, 3 fastest laps, 10 podiums) – TP 50.2%, QA 7.9 (6th), FR 80 (8th), SR 69 (1st), LL 64 (6th)
IW (8th): Lawson pulled off one of the all-time great F2 wins in the final sprint race of the year in Abu Dhabi, with a level of consistency in a race performance rarely seen in junior single-seater racing away from ovals. That was the fourth of his sprint race wins, making him the top scorer on Saturdays, but none of the series sophomore’s four feature race podiums were wins. However, along with the champion, he was the only driver to get two podiums in a weekend multiple times.
AA (8th): A strong pre-season test tipped Lawson as one of the title favourites, and three podiums in the first three races seemed to corroborate so. However, a series of average results through the rest of the season’s first half put him on the back foot. He managed to come back in the second half to clinch third in the standings in the very last race. Lawson himself said during the final weekend in Abu Dhabi that he “didn’t come into this year to finish third in the championship, so on that side it’s been a bit disappointing”. While he showed dominant pace when he was at the front, he struggled to move forward most of the times he found himself in the middle of the pack.
5. Jack Doohan AUSTRALIA Virtuosi Racing
6th in standings, 128pts (3 wins, 3 poles, 4 fastest laps, 6 podiums) – TP 95.5%, QA 5.6 (2nd), FR 72 (9th), SR 50 (4th), LL 83 (4th)
Alejandro Alonso Lopez (2nd): Having shown his speed across his first two rounds in F2 at the end of 2021, Doohan claimed pole position in the first qualifying of 2022 at Bahrain. He was in the fight for feature race victory, but a mistake coming out of his pitstop resulted in him touching the rear of Theo Pourchaire and having to box again for a new front wing. What happened that weekend perfectly sums up the rest of the season. He was always so close and yet so far, often the fastest on track but too inconsistent, because of either his own mistakes or mechanical failures. Beating Drugovich to win the Spa-Francorchamp feature race just proves how far he could have gone in the title race had he not had 12 races without points.
IW (4th): A driver who put himself in contention for an Alpine F1 seat once Oscar Piastri turned down his 2023 deal, yet the team has not been ready to commit to saying he will even be its reserve driver. Doohan deserves better than that, because he has performed on track this year and also shown personal growth and a level of maturity off-track that made him look more and more F1-ready.
As for his F2 season, three wins and three poles as a rookie is a great achievement and he will no doubt grow more with the experience of a second seasion with Virtuosi.
4. Logan Sargeant USA Carlin
4th in standings, 148pts (2 wins, 2 poles, 4 podiums) – TP 49.8%, QA 6.5 (3rd), FR 115 (3rd), SR 29 (11th), LL 16 (12th)
AA (4th): Sargeant wasn’t perhaps the most spectacular rookie, but his solid performances throughout the year awarded him the rookie honours. Surprisingly, he only claimed four podium finishes, although two of them were feature race wins. His season seemed to have gained momentum as he was in contention for a third such win in a row at Paul Ricard, but a clutch failure during his pitstop prevented him from joining the title fight. His pole and dominant win at Silverstone remain the highlight of his season, which also had the lows of his mistakes at Imola and Spa.
IW (3rd): Unlike several other rising stars and rookies, Sargeant had the benefit of a team-mate who could push him to improve and he made the most of that. But the second half of the year didn’t go to plan with just one podium… and several F1 free practice sessions with Williams that led to a 2023 race seat. Bar the back-to-back weekends with feature race wins, there weren’t too many memorable performances but that didn’t matter when even with weekends not going his way he was able to come ever so close to third in the standings.
3. Theo Pourchaire FRANCE ART Grand Prix
2nd in standings, 164pts (3 wins, 7 podiums) – TP 58.4%, QA 8.1 (7th), FR 135 (2nd), SR 29 (10th), LL 25 (10th)
RG (2nd): Compared to the high expectations surrounding Pourchaire at the start of the year, his actual season was hugely disappointing. Driver errors and mechanical unreliability cost him dearly. Yet he had started strongly with two feature race wins in the first three weekends, adding a third in Hungary before the summer break. But from Spa onwards his year disintegrated completely, scoring just two points thereafter. Poor qualifying left him mired in midfield battles while simultaneously failing to turn it to his advantage in the sprint races. Should he have done better? Yes, but he still showed enough class and pace to earn second in a year when only one driver truly excelled.
AA (7th): The high expectations created on the back of his stunning 2021 rookie year were far from being met. He started the season strong with his two wins, but from there onwards there was always something missing, which prevented him from delivering. Mistakes, mechanical failures and a poor run after the summer break, when ART Grand Prix’s car wasn’t at its best, resulted in him becoming runner-up with a 101-point deficit. Pourchaire himself recognised in the build-up to the British Grand Prix that he had been struggling to manage the pressure that was on him. Had he come out on top of his battle with Drugovich in Monaco, we perhaps would be talking about a completely different ending.
2. Ayumu Iwasa JAPAN DAMS
5th in standings, 141pts (2 wins, 2 poles, 1 fastest lap, 6 podiums) – TP 87.6%, QA 7.2 (5th), FR 108 (4th), SR 29 (9th), LL 45 (9th)
AA (3rd): Following the footsteps of Yuki Tsunoda, Iwasa stepped up to F2 after just one year in FIA F3 with the support of Honda and Red Bull. However, few people would have bet he would impress as much as his countryman in his rookie season in F1’s main support series, especially as he joined DAMS, which had endured difficult campaigns in previous years. Iwasa bound perfectly with the team and always showed himself keen to improve his and DAMS’ performance. This translated into great speed which allowed for some very strong results in the season’s second half, including two feature race victories. If he leaves behind the mistakes caused by inexperience and continues to build on this year’s base, he will be one to watch in 2023.
IW (2nd): The parallels with Tsunoda’s 2020 campaign are well deserved, as the Japanese driver claimed two poles and two wins and was firmly in the condensed fight for third in the standings and to be top rookie. The qualifying performances were particularly impressive, as well as how he and the team worked to improve their base pace in those sessions, as DAMS has struggled with tyre warm-up in recent years and hadn’t claimed a pole since 2019. There were mistakes, but Iwasa entertained from the off and frequently made a claim to be one of F2’s best with his on-track performance and off-track attitude.
1. Felipe Drugovich BRAZIL MP Motorsport
1st in standings, 265pts (5 wins, 4 poles, 4 fastest laps, 11 podiums) – TP 86.9%, QA 4.7 (1st), FR 195 (1st), SR 62 (2nd), LL 140 (1st)
AA (1st): Drugovich has undoubtedly been the best driver and, therefore, is a very well deserved champion. His MP Motorsport return for a third year in the series was a risky move after a quiet 2021 season with Virtuosi Racing. However, it paid dividends as he enjoyed his and the team’s best season ever thanks to the work done together with race engineer Paolo Angilella. Consistency and speed were the keys to his success. He scored points in 25 out of 28 races, claimed four poles and five wins. Even when it seemed it was not going to be his way on a weekend, Drugovich managed to end up contending at the top.
IW (1st): I remember working with Drugovich during his title-winning Euroformula campaign in 2018, which looked so complete yet also highlighted so many obvious weaknesses. And he has grown considerably since then.
His tyre management, racecraft, ability to nail qualifying and trust with his team were all incredibly impressive. Sometimes their risk-taking did go wrong when in winning positions, but they were riding a wave of success where they could afford such mistakes, and this was already happening by round three. Drugovich’s consistency was immense, and the way he trounced his team-mate can’t be understated.