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Record-Setting F3 Podium for Crawford at Spa

Jak Crawford #10 Hitech GP, during round five of the FIA Formula 3 Championship at Spa-Francorchamps, in Belgium on Aug 27-29, 2021. // SI202108280800 // Usage for editorial use only //

STAVELOT, Belgium (29 August 2021) – Red Bull Junior Team driver Jak Crawford turned in his best performance of the FIA Formula 3 season with a second-place finish in the opening race at Spa-Francorchamps. The podium result marks the youngest-ever podium result in series history, with Crawford having turned 16 earlier this year.

The young American Formula 1 hopeful from Texas braved horrendous weather conditions throughout his debut at the 4.352-mile circuit, the longest track on the schedule, in his fifth F3 weekend of the season.

After finishing second in Saturday morning’s opener, the Hitech Grand Prix driver placed 12th in each of the event’s remaining races, after qualifying 11th on Friday.

“It was a pretty good weekend, my best one race finish so far,” Crawford said. “I’m happy with the podium, and it gives me a lot of confidence – a little less pressure to get that first podium. In terms of performance, we really didn’t have the car pace in the wet. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see what we had in the dry. It was absolutely dreadful weather-wise with all the rain, and a bit cold as well!”

With qualifying beginning in heavy rain, Crawford found himself 16th with 10 minutes remaining on Friday. He ran a lap of 2:23.964-seconds, moving up to 10th position for the 29-car grid. Following a slow lap, Crawford pushed for a fast final tour of the circuit. However, a late incident brought out a red flag, negating his late effort and putting him 11th fastest.

“Qualifying was a weird one,” he said. “We were working on the set-up and we didn’t get out immediately like we wanted to, because that’s when the best times were. It started to rain on my first push and I didn’t get my best lap when the track was the best, but I was happy to qualify in the top 12. That’s what put me in the position for the podium.”

With the top 12 qualifiers inverted for Saturday morning’s opening race, Crawford started on the outside of the front row, and was able to capitalize on that position. The event was delayed by fog and then heavy rain, with the start suspended following three formation laps. Rain let off enough for a rolling start on lap four. Crawford got away in second place as spray enveloped the field, and held the position for the 15-lap event as the top two managed to pull away.

“I don’t think we were the quickest, but I held my position well,” he said. “I really didn’t have the pace of the leader, and he checked out, but I was holding the pace of the guys behind me. I was just trying to chill and relax, and work on my driving a bit. It was very wet, so it was difficult to push, and I was happy with the race.

“It wasn’t too bad,” Crawford said of the conditions. “I’m sure people in the mid-pack had it a lot worse than I did. [The winner] was so quick in the beginning he was able to get the tires going a lot quicker, and so the visibility wasn’t too bad when he pulled away.”

Race two had Crawford falling to 15th on the opening lap as the top 12 finishers from the opening race were inverted. He gained three positions in the closing laps, with intensifying rain bringing out several incidents that caused the race to end under caution.

“Race 2 was a bit more difficult,” Crawford explained. “I thought I was quick, but I didn’t have a good first lap and I lost some positions. It was really difficult to pass and difficult to see.”

More rain and cooler temperatures returned for Sunday morning’s final race. Crawford started 11th based on his qualifying time, and held that position following a rolling start after three formation laps. He briefly fell to 13th on lap eight, but regained the positions and took the checkered flag in 11th after 14 laps.

“In Race 3 I didn’t have the best pace, but I made the most with what I had,” Crawford said. “It’s a shame I didn’t get any points in those two races, but I think I did the best job I could.  My teammates and I finished around each other each day so it was a car issue mostly.”

Only two weekends remain on the F3 schedule. Next weekend, the series visits Circuit Zandvoort in the Netherlands for the revived Dutch Grand Prix. Following a seven-week break, competition concludes at Crawford’s home track, Austin’s Circuit of The Americas, on Oct. 23-24.

“I’m excited to go to Zandvoort,” he said. “I’ve been there before in F4 to test last year on the new track. I love the new track, and I can’t wait to go there. It will be interesting, because no one has been there in these cars before, so it will be a bit of an unknown for the teams and drivers. The track is fun and it will be enjoyable. I just hope it isn’t raining like this weekend.”

Running a double-schedule, Crawford also has four victories and two seconds in Euroformula Open, competing for Team Motopark. The next Euroformula Open event is at Austria’s Red Bull Ring on Sept. 10-12, giving Crawford three-consecutive weekends of competition.


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