Crawford battles back for seventh-place finish in F2 race at Imola

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Crawford battles back for seventh-place finish in F2 race at Imola

Imola (ITA), MAY 17-19 2024 - Emila-Romagnia Grand Prix at Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari. Jak CRAWFORD #7 Dams. © 2024 Dutch Photo Agency

IMOLA (20 MAY 2024) – American F1 prospect Jak Crawford put a sensational finish to a frustrating weekend, battling from a back-row start to finish seventh in Sunday’s feature race in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in FIA Formula 2 Championship at the Imola Circuit.

“I’m happy with the performance today,” Crawford said following the Feature Race. “We came back through the field really well to secure some solid points. But the weekend was frustrating, actually, because we were pretty fast but had an engine issue in qualifying.”

Starting 21st, the DAMS Lucas Oil driver quickly gained four positions on the opening laps, and found himself 15th after his mandatory pit stop and move to medium-compound tires on lap 10. From that point, he worked himself into a three-car battle for 13th, putting pressure on the championship leader and another car.

Crawford eventually executed two brilliant passes to take 13th with 10 laps remaining. From there he worked himself into the points, gaining positions from the drivers who elected to start the race on super-soft tires making their mandatory pit stops in the closing minutes.

“Today we had a strong car and strategy,” he said. “We were really fast in the Feature Race. I was able to make a couple of great overtakes and work my way up to P7, which I think is a positive finish. It was a definitely a fun race. It was difficult to overtake in the Sprint Race, but in the Feature I was able to deliver myself well to be in a position to pass.”

The six points earned for seventh position follow his third-consecutive top-10 Feature Race finish. He is now tied for ninth with 32 points, just six points behind fifth position.

The Texan began the weekend 12th in opening practice, then struggled in qualifying with mechanical issues on a part that the team had no control over, which allowed him to only get one flying lap during the critical session. That put him 21st, on the back row of the grid for both races.

“It was frustrating to have the engine issue in qualifying,” he said. “I was in the pits for 22 minutes, and It meant I only got one lap at the very end. It was all I could do at that moment, with no experience in a car that was not ready for the first push. I was out of sequence and had a lot of traffic, and the tires were not in the right window,.”

He managed to avoid a melee at the beginning of Saturday’s 25-lap Sprint Race. Running 17th after the safety car restart, he gained two additional positions in the closing laps to finish 14th.

“It was very difficult to pass,” he admitted of the Sprint Race. “Actually, it was a boring one. There was a massive crash at the beginning, and I wasn’t gaining positions. The goal was just to keep the car clean and learn something for the next day.”

Crawford will get only a few days rest in Italy before on-track activity begins on Thursday on the historic streets of Monte Carlo for next weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

“I’m definitely looking forward to Monaco,” he said. “I think our car really suits that track and I performed quite well there last year (qualified seventh and had a podium) and really good speed. Of course it’s all about qualifying there. We need to improve our qualifying. It was difficult to tell how we were at Imola. I think we’re going to have good speed, and I love that track as well. It’s one of my favorite tracks.”

Following Monaco, Crawford will go to Austria for his first test in a Formula 1 car as part of the Aston Martin Driver Development Program.

“I get to try the AMR-22. That will be my first experience. I’m excited – it will be a good learning experience, for sure.”

Photos © Dutch Photo Agency