First-lap incident eliminates Crawford in tough Monaco street race

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First-lap incident eliminates Crawford in tough Monaco street race

MONACO (MC), 23-26 May 2024. Grand Prix of Monaco 2024 at Circuit de Monaco. Jak CRAWFORD #7 Dams. © 2024 Dutch Photo Agency

MONACO (26 May 2024) –  After a promising run in the Sprint Race, contact on the opening lap of Sunday’s Feature Race in Monte Carlo resulted in a short day for American Jak Crawford in the fifth weekend of the FIA Formula 2 season.

Qualifying 18th, the Texan managed to avoid three incidents directly in front of him in Saturday’s 30-lap Sprint on the streets of the Principality of Monaco, after he set the fastest lap three different times.

Sunday, though, he was not as lucky. Moments after lights-out, he was tagged from behind in the hairpin and swerved into a barrier – ending the race moments after it started.

“It was a very disappointing weekend, for sure,” Crawford said. “I was trying to make up some positions at the start of today’s race. I didn’t really what happened, but I obviously got hit, put into the wall and I couldn’t get it restarted. It was in the slowest corner of the year. But it’s part of this race, it’s part of this track. It is what it is.

“It sucks, because I think we were really fast. It’s definitely the track that’s the most luck-based. Sure, it’s about being fast, but you have to have good luck, and that didn’t happen in qualifying and the Feature Race. We had really quick pace, and who knows what would have happened in today’s race.”

Crawford showed promise in Thursday’s practice session, run in a gradually increasing rain. The 19-year-old DAMS Lucas Oil driver posted the 10th-fastest lap early in the run, and that time stood for the remainder of practice as conditions deteriorated.

“It was wet, which was quite an experience,” he said. “I don’t think we nailed the setup initially, but were getting better and better as it went on. It’s unfortunate that the extra rain came, because I thought it would be better on our second run.”

Friday’s qualifying saw better weather, with the field divided into two groups for 15-minute runs on the tight circuit. Running in the second group, Crawford was on the sideline for the incident-free opening session. He was briefly up to third, with a yellow-flag sector negating his first push lap. He was unable to get in another fast lap, putting him ninth in the session and 18th on the grid.

“It was an unfortunate qualifying session, because we had a red flag early on. We had a miscommunication with the team, and that caused me to miss out on my last two push laps. I wasn’t fully up to speed on my first two laps, and I missed those two extra laps. Unlucky, and we can’t let that happen again.”

Crawford barely avoided an incident at the start of Saturday’s Sprint Race that brought out an early safety car.

“It got a bit crowded, and I had some contact on my front wing,” he said.

He avoided another incident 10 laps later that brought out a virtual safety car, and was 16th at the restart. From that point, he set the best lap on the 13th, 15th and 17th laps, moving up to 15th position. Another incident directly in front of Crawford’s blue No. 7 put him 13th with six-laps remaining. That incident, however, brought out a red flag. In F2, teams can work on their cars under stoppage, allowing a few of the competitors in front of Crawford to repair damage while most of the cars – including Crawford – switched to the super-soft tire. Crawford managed to hold his position but lost fastest race lap in the closing minutes, taking the checkered flag 13th.

“My whole goal was just to drive on my own,” he explained. “I was making gaps and pushing, to see how the car was feeling, to make it good for Sunday. I set fast laps at the same time. In the end, you can’t really pass here, so it was about keeping my nose clean and avoiding some of the chaos. On the red flag, we fixed my front wing and got super-softs, so that evened it out at the end.”

The Dams Lucas Oil team gambled with an alternate strategy on Sunday morning for the Feature, sending Crawford off on super-soft tires. Crawford leaves Monaco tied for 10th in the championship with 32 points.

Next up is Round 6 in Barcelona on June 22-23.

“I’m really looking forward to Barcelona, because I need to get my season back on track,” he said. “It’s been a really disappointing last three rounds, and it’s a track that we tested at recently. I’m sure it will be quick, especially in the race. It’s similar to Bahrain; you can race really well around that track, and we have really good race around there. I have no doubt me and the team will be on it, and I’m already looking forward to Barcelona.”

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

“It would have been nice to get a good result before my test next week, but it will be my first time in an F1 car. It will be quite cool.”