Crawford Gets Head Start on 2022 FIA F3 championship with Prema

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Crawford Gets Head Start on 2022 FIA F3 championship with Prema

Formula Regional Winter Asian Series prepares American with new engineer, new car, and new tracks ahead of Bahrain opener next month

HOUSTON (22 February 2022) – In mid-January, 16 year old rising star Jak Crawford entered the F3 Formula Regional Asian Championship (FRAC) for some serious on-track preparation for the upcoming FIA Formula 3 campaign, which will see the Red Bull Junior Team driver return to the category with a new team, the premier Prema Racing team.

The 5-week F3 FRAC outing, which closed out last weekend, gave Crawford a useful warm up for the 2022 FIA F3 campaign as he built on the working relationship with Prema and gained more experience working with his new engineer. The intensity of the winter championship added several new firsts for Crawford in preparation for his return to FIA F3 competition this year with his new Prema squad.

“It was definitely a learning series for me,” Crawford said. “First time in the car, first time with the same Prema engineer I will have for F3. It was my fourth different type of car in 14 months, but the first time I have ever had to use a non-pre-loaded clutch.”

Crawford struggled with the clutch with two stalls in Race 1 events, including the very first race of the event.  With poor resulting invert positions for the complimentary Race 2 events, the stall put him in a big points hole.  Crawford had low confidence in the clutch but there were no more stalls, just a lot of slow starts that prohibited better finishes.

“We just didn’t prepare enough in advance and I didn’t have enough time between the concurrent five week series to figure out the clutch properly and confidently,” said Crawford as he prepared for his return to Italy. “It was my fault on the starts but we could have prepared better.  Results and points just were not our goals before the season started.”

While the clutch issue left Crawford feeling frustrated over the points that he left on the table, the experience added yet another new chapter in his rapidly growing experiential notebook as he still added multiple podium results to his record.

“I was quick most of the events with good pace and race craft,” said Crawford about the highlights of the quick season.  “We certainly didn’t nail the car the entire time but I didn’t make a lot of mistakes. We were learning every time out. Prema had a big program for this championship and me and my teammate Paul Aron had different equipment from some of our other teammates who had the Mumbai Falcon cars. I think   Paul will be a front runner for FRECA in 2022 and I will be a front runner in FIA F3 in 2022 so I am looking ahead, not behind.”

If results and points were not the goals before the FRAC season started, what were the main goals for 2022?

“I want to fight at the front of the FIA F3 grid.  That was and is the only goal.  We wanted my engineer to try things with me and for me to try things with the car.  We wanted to fully know each other and how we work.  I think it was very successful from that perspective. We really get on together great so it is going to be a good year.  We are ready to proceed to that main goal and it starts this week. Thank goodness we switch out to the superior FIA F3 car which I am really ready for.”

Crawford has travelled from Abu Dhabi back to Italy and the Prema Headquarters where they will take a week to prepare for the FIA F3 official test which will be held from March 2-4 in Bahrain.  He is excited to start the season.

“I have unfinished business from 2021 but by no means am I the front runner,” said Crawford. “I think my teammate, Arthur Leclerc, is the one to beat and will have the most pressure on him, especially after his results in FRAC. He is the lead Prema car for sure.  There is a much stronger field than last year with returning drivers in good equipment like Martins, Edgar, Collett, Smolyar, and some new talents.  I am still the young 16 year old underdog, nipping on the heels of these guys!”

Crawford will put his winter experience to work when it counts, in the FIA F3 opener on March 17-19 at the Sakhir Race Track Bahrain.

Images via Red Bull Content pool