MONZA, Italy (12 Sept. 2022) – American Formula One hopeful Jak Crawford finished the FIA Formula 3 Championship with a podium finish, placing third in Sunday’s Feature Race at Autodromo Nazionale Monza. The 17-year-old Red Bull Junior Team driver closed out the season-ending weekend with a pair of points-paying finishes for the second-consecutive event, having finishing seventh in Saturday’s Sprint Race.
Crawford’s 2022 campaign saw the young American demonstrate impressive pace during the 18-race season on his way to seventh in the overall championship standings, with seven drivers less than 30 points from the championship lead, any one, including Jak could have won. Having claimed his first F3 victory in the Sprint Race at Red Bull Ring, Crawford’s points haul helped his Prema Racing squad win the F3 team title.
“It was a really good way to end the season on a good note,” Crawford said. “After getting four podiums in the first 10 races, it was great to end the season back up there today.”
The two weekends previous to Monza hosted race weekends at both Spa in Belgium and Zandvoort in The Netherlands. Jak’s string of bad luck leading up to those events continued, but this time the errors were more self-inflicted, really hurting his chance to make a real push for the championship in Monza. The speed was there in both Spa and Zandvoort but driving mistakes at key moments hurt Jak’s ultimate championship goals. With the lead pack of seven drivers so tight, there was no room for mistakes.
Then racing at the famed Monza circuit for the final time in F3 for 2022, Crawford was 10th in practice and had a strong finish to the qualifying session to place eighth. Ranked 14th with time running out, Crawford turned a fast lap to get up to third with one-minute, 35-seconds remaining. His time of 1:38.031-seconds was good enough to keep him in the top 10, with a yellow flag spoiling his final lap, which would have been even faster.
“It was hard to tell our speed in practice because it was half-wet, half-dry,” Crawford said. “This was my first time at Monza, and my car wasn’t really there in the first run of qualifying, even though the speed was all right. We made some changes for the second run and it was a lot better, and we were definitely in the fight for the pole or top three. I got a little unlucky with traffic at the end of my lap. Then there was a red flag, so I got only one push lap on my second run. But qualifying P-8 is not the end of the world, especially at Monza with the long straights.”
With the top-12 qualifiers inverted, the Texan started the Sprint Race in fifth. After losing out at the start and running seventh, he worked his way back into the top five following a safety car restart but had to settle for seventh at the finish.
“In the first race we really weren’t that quick,” he said. “We had good speed, but every time I got into a battle, I was able to make moves but I wasn’t able to keep positions after winning battles.”
Sunday’s race saw Crawford start eighth and race up to fifth by lap 15. After running in fourth before a caution for a two-car collision on lap 16, the race wasn’t restarted. With penalties being applied post race, Crawford moved up to be classified third to close out the year with another podium run.
“Sunday’s race was a lot better,” Crawford explained. “We changed a lot to the car overnight, and it was definitely a lot better. I had some tire degradation early in the race but we were still quite quick. I lost the DRS to the top three [after taking fourth place], so I was sitting back in fifth, waiting to catch the top three. But in the end, there was a red flag. It was really a shame, because there were two drivers with penalties ahead of me. I got promoted up to third, but I really think if the race had gone on, a win was especially in the cards – especially with the top two battling for the championship.”
Crawford enjoyed his first experience racing at the Italian Grand Prix circuit.
“I loved the track,” Crawford said. “It’s really, really fast, and fun to drive. The racing here is crazy, it’s one like no other. The slipstream is very strong, and the long straights mean there’s lots of battling, overtaking and general chaos.”
With the season concluded, Crawford is looking forward to heading back to his home in Texas for 10 days this week.
“I’m going to enjoy a few days back home in the U.S., and then I’m going to start to prepare for next season,” he said. “We just came off a close championship where if things had gone slightly different here or there, I could have won, but it is time to move on, I will be racing in F2 next year, but it will not be officially announced for several months. In fact, my seat fit for the official F2 Abu Dhabi test is this week, and so as one season ends we start preparing immediately for another one.”