Crawford Takes Monaco Podium

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Crawford Takes Monaco Podium

Jak Crawford #9 Hitech GP, during round four of the FIA Formula 2 Championship at Circuit de Monaco, on May 25 - 29, 2023. // Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202305270358 // Usage for editorial use only //

Continues strong start to rookie F2 season with big performance on iconic circuit


MONTE CARLO, Monaco (28 May 2023) – American Jak Crawford had his biggest weekend in FIA Formula 2 Championship competition to date, scoring a podium finish among a pair of points-paying finishes on the streets of Monte Carlo in the most prestigious event of the season.

The Red Bull Junior Team driver from Houston – racing for the first time since his 18th birthday – finished third in Saturday’s Sprint Race before placing ninth in Sunday’s Feature, an event punctuated by a long midrace red flag stoppage.

“We had a really strong weekend in my opinion,” he said. “It was an amazing experience. I loved the track and the atmosphere. Driving the track was a big rush, as well.”

Crawford was racing for the first time on the fabled 19-turn, two-mile circuit that has hosted competition since 1929. One of the few F2 competitors without any prior experience at the circuit, the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver had a lot to learn but did so quickly, starting the weekend 17th fastest in Thursday’s 45-minute practice session that was slowed by three red flags.

“It’s obviously a tough track to get right, especially driving there for the first time, so it took me a while to get up to speed,” he said. “We just lacked a bit of pace, and the track was super difficult to manage with the limited amount of laps we had.”

Crawford was ready for qualifying on Friday. Running in the second group for the 12-minute session, he jumped to fifth with 5:30 remaining. As time ticked down, he fell back to 10th. Then, with 2:20 remaining, he recorded a lap of 1:21.576-seconds that put him up to fourth. A red flag waved moments later, putting him fourth in his group and seventh-fastest overall.

“Qualifying was really good, and I was already up to speed and on the pace,” he said. “It was a big positive. I think there was more time there, as well, but unfortunately,  we didn’t get to complete the full session. There was still improvement to come. Potentially, we could have been third in group and fifth overall, but in the end, it was P7 and that is our best result. It was really strong to make those improvements from Free Practice. Another top 10 in qualifying put us in good position for the Sprint Race.”

With the top-10 qualifiers inverted, Crawford was gridded fourth for Saturday’s 30-lap Sprint race. He rolled off cleanly at lights-out, and then took third when his teammate had a mechanical problem shortly after a lap-five restart. He held that position the rest of the way, fighting off challenges and getting an excellent restart following a caution with only six laps remaining.

“We struggled with the pace a bit in the Sprint Race,” he said. “I was running in third most of the race. Then, at a certain point, I just decided to take it cool and bring the car home to the podium. I was never going to overtake the cars ahead and I wasn’t going to be overtaken from behind. It was just about keeping it out of the wall and hanging on to the podium.”

For Sunday’s scheduled 42-lap Feature Race, Crawford started seventh. In a strategic move, he was the highest-starting competitor starting the race on super-soft tires (F2 mandates use of two different specified compounds and a mandatory pit stop for the Feature Race). He got away in seventh and pitted on the 13th lap to switch to the harder compound. That dropped him to 15th, but he worked back to 10th as other cars pitted.

A caution period allowed the cars ahead of him to pit for the super-soft tires, with Crawford ninth after the stops. Then, a crash shortly after the Lap 22 restart put the field under a long caution. While Crawford was ninth – first in line with the alternate tire – the cars in front gapped the field before the restart following a stoppage of 23 minutes. He pulled away from the cars behind him on the restart, and held ninth for the remainder of the race.

“We were the first car starting on the optional super-soft tire,” he explained. “We had really, really good pace and were projected to come out P5 in a normal race. But then there was a red flag that put us a lap down somehow, and that obviously really hurt us. There was nothing that we could have done better. The guys we would have been ahead of finished P3 and it is unfortunate to see another podium slip away because we had such great pace today.”

All in all, he was pleased with his showing in his fifth F2 event that saw him gain eight championship points.

“It was our best race so far in F2, and I was super happy with the performance,” Crawford said. “I was putting everything together. Even though we finished ninth, we had really good speed. After the restart, it felt like I was leading the race. I was out on my own, with good speed and no one in front of me. If I could have used that speed up at the front, it could have been a really good day for us. At the end of the day, it’s motorsports and you get lucky in some races and unlucky in others. Today although we had really good pace; we just weren’t lucky.”

Crawford has little time to rest up for the next event – with the series traveling to Barcelona for a pair of races this coming weekend.

“No rest – straight into the simulator and then on a flight to Barcelona,” Crawford said. “Everything is happening really quick. I’m excited to get back to Barcelona. I like the track, and they recently changed sector three. We had a test there a couple of weeks ago and tried it out. Coming off the back of this last race weekend, I have a lot of confidence both for qualy and race conditions. I think we could have a good weekend to show what we can do.”

Following the June 3-4 event, Crawford will have a month until returning to racing at Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria on July 1-2.

“I’ll be heading back to the States,” he said.  “I’m looking forward to spending time with my family, and I need to get a new passport!”

Images via Red Bull Content Pool