Crawford Fast, but Qualifying Challenges Prevent Better F3 Results at Paul Ricard

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Crawford Fast, but Qualifying Challenges Prevent Better F3 Results at Paul Ricard

Jak Crawford #10 Hitech GP, during round one of the FIA Formula 3 Championship at Circuito de Barcelona Catalunya, in Spain on May 7-9, 2021. // SI202105070366 // Usage for editorial use only //

LE CASTELLET, France (20 June 2021) – Jak Crawford completed a challenging weekend in FIA Formula 3 competition with a points-paying finish driving in the rain in the second weekend of the 2021 campaign at Circuit Paul Ricard this weekend.

After qualifying didn’t go as hoped for, the three races on the weekend gave the 16-year-old Texan the chance to generate plenty of overtaking in all three races. Driving for Hitech Grand Prix, the Red Bull Junior Team driver gained six positions in Sunday’s finale to finish 10th after finishing 11th and 14th in the Saturday races. However, challenges in qualifying plus a mishap at the start of the second race prevented him from posting better results.                                                             
For the second-consecutive F3 race weekend, Crawford’s qualifying put him on the back foot for the three-race event. Running in the top five for much of the qualifying session, he dropped from sixth to 16th, dropping from fifth in the closing minutes.

“It was a bad qualifying for me,” Crawford admitted. “We definitely had the speed for a top five, but I made a mistake so we ended up being 16th. My true pace was in the top five. That was unfortunate, because it really set my weekend back.”

The opening race saw Crawford gain two positions in the opening laps after starting 16th. Running 13th with two laps remaining, he gained two positions entering the final lap.

“The first race was good,” Crawford said. “I was racing against all the people that qualified in the front because of the reverse grid for the top 12. The pace was good, and considering that I was racing all the good guys and it was very difficult to overtake, I think it was a good race.”

With the top 12 from the first race inverted, that put Crawford on the front row for race two. His car lurched forward, but suddenly stopped at lights out, allowing most of the field to stream by as he eventually joined the race in 29th position. Up to 20th by lap three, Crawford patiently worked his way forward en route to finishing 14th.

“The start of race two was a bit unfortunate,” he said. “We definitely needed to make the most of that race, but the exact reason for what happened is a bit unknown. We looked through everything and it’s a situation where we don’t know exactly what happened. Our recovery drive was pretty good, coming from last to 14th. It’s just a shame about the start.”

After nice weather all weekend, Sunday dawned with steady rain that continued through the opening laps of the final race. Once precipitation let off, the second half of the 20-lap event saw drying track conditions that gradually wore out the Pirelli rain tires used for the race.

“It was an interesting race, and it was really wet,” Crawford explained. “It was impossible to see during the opening two laps. I was just trying to keep my nose clean and try not to get into any wrecks. Once my tires started to come in, I progressed forward, and I had really good pace. I got into 10th but I had to give it back because of an unfortunate call by the stewards, and that cost me four or five seconds. After that, the pace was good and I was one of the quickest on the track once I got into clean air.”

Crawford then regained 10th a lap later, but was five seconds behind ninth. Over the final two laps, he closed in on that position, which would have equaled his best finish of the year from the opening weekend at Barcelona.

“I was close [to taking ninth], but I used up my tires catching up and I didn’t have anything left at the end. The pace was good all weekend, really,” Crawford summed up. “It was just unfortunate about the qualifying.”

After a weekend off, Crawford is optimistic looking to the next F3 event, which will be on July 2-4 at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, the third of seven rounds on the 2021 schedule.

“I’ve done tons of days at the Red Bull Ring,” he said. “I know the track very well, and I’m looking forward to it very much.”

Crawford also runs in the Euroformula Open when his schedule allows. He won two races and finished second in his most recent weekend in that series last month. His next race in the Euroformula Open will be July 9-11 at the Hungaroring in Hungary.

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