Coming off the back of an impressive karting career Taylor Barnard expected to find similar success when he stepped up to Formula 4 in 2020. However, his time in single-seaters has proven to be a monumental challenge so far, albeit a switch to new team PHM Racing has given the British driver a new opportunity. F1 Feeder Series talked to Barnard following the start of his ADAC F4 season.
By Alexander Studenkov
Barnard’s karting exploits have been very well documented, to a point that his current team manager Roland Rehfeld has dubbed the Brit as “something of a legend for the younger karting generation”. The Norwich-born driver took multiple titles in his homeland and subsequently moved into European competitions.
From there he managed to finish second in the 2019 World Championship and 2020 European Championship respectively under the wing of Nico Rosberg’s karting team, the Rosberg Racing Academy, whilst also winning the WSK Champions Cup twice and WSK Open cup once.
When I first stepped into a formula car my intentions were to learn as much as possible quickly. But with limited track time and testing that was difficultTaylor Barnard
With those results on his resumé Barnard made his debut in Italian F4 with AKM Motorsport, taking part in three races and scoring two points, the only ones the team would amass throughout the campaign. However, the step-up did not go as well as the Brit would have imagined.
“When I first stepped into a formula car my intentions were to learn as much as possible quickly. But with limited track time and testing that was difficult”, he says.
For 2021, Barnard switched to the Rosberg-backed BWR Motorsports squad in ADAC F4 and planned to complete his first full campaign in car racing. Unfortunately for Barnard’s season didn’t pan out that way as he missed two out of six rounds and even when he raced, points were hard to come by.
“2021 obviously wasn’t a good year for me. Being my rookie season, I didn’t learn as much as anyone would have wanted and didn’t get any results to satisfy my hard work that year.
“Last year with BWR we had limited track time and limited resources so we didn’t have much of a chance to click. And with the budget we have, my dreams were definitely in danger.”
Having left Rosberg’s academy after his ADAC F4 campaign, the 17-year-old received a fateful message from Rohland Rehfeld, team manager of the newly set up PHM Racing team, a non-profit racing organisation making their racing debut in 2022.
“I was contacted by Roland already in late 2020 but couldn’t manage to pull through anything. He came to me again in 2021 with PHM Racing and we managed to put a deal together.”
I felt F4 UAE was a learning process for the team and myself with the new car, however this is a big benefit now in the European championshipsTaylor Barnard
Barnard validated Rehfeld’s choice, becoming the first ever race winner of the team at Yas Marina in the first round of F4 UAE, thereby scoring his first ever win in single-seaters.
That victory, which according to Barnard had been “a long tough time coming”, would end up being his only podium appearance of the campaign thanks in large part to a myriad of retirements caused primarily by engine issues.
The Brit considers his time in the Middle East to have been his “full rookie season”, he tells F1 Feeder Series. “I felt F4 UAE was a learning process for the team and myself with the new car, however this is a big benefit now in the European championships.”
A chance for success
This season the Brit will partake in both the Italian and ADAC F4 championships with the German outfit, partnering last year’s rookie champion in both series, Nikita Bedrin. “He is a very fast driver, who’s also in his second year coming from a good team last year”, Barnard said about the Russian.
His European campaign started at the end of April in Belgium, where Barnard finished two races in sixth place, putting him ninth at the time of writing. He puts his and the team’s respective lack of pace down to not having been able to find the perfect setup for the car, but remains positive about the rest of the season. “I’m optimistic for the championships. I cannot set any goals as of yet but we will keep working to ensure these are as high as possible.
Being a new team, we never expected to be winning out of the gates but we are working on this and we will be there in the near futureTaylor Barnard
“As a team we just need more time, more experience with the new car and we will manage to catch the front. The team is working very hard to make sure the car is where it should be. Being a new team, we never expected to be winning out of the gates but we are working on this and we will be there in the near future.”
Barnard has since raced in the first round of Italian F4, finishing fourth in Race 3. He now sits seventh in the standings prior to the next round at Misano in three weeks’ time.
Header photo credit: ADAC
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