Crawford Ready for Late-Season Push in F2 Rookie Season

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Crawford Ready for Late-Season Push in F2 Rookie Season

Jak Crawford #9 Hitech GP, during round eleven of the FIA Formula 2 Championship at Spa-Francorchamps, on Jul 27-30, 2023. // Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202307280364 // Usage for editorial use only //

Pair of tough-luck weekends ahead of F2 summer break has American F1 hopeful eager to get back to racing

STAVELOT, Belgium (1 August 2023) – With a rookie FIA Formula 2 season for young Texan Jak Crawford that has so far stretched from Sakhir to Baku and included everything from race-ending contact by a competitor to a breakthrough Sprint race victory, it is safe to say that the 18 year old Formula 1 hopeful has learned a lot in a short time as he navigates his first season in the highly competitive international category.

With the support of Red Bull, young Crawford has taken on a significant challenge this year with his debut campaign in F2, but he wouldn’t have it any other way as he sets his sights on a shot at Formula 1. Joining the Hitech Pulse-Eight squad following an impressive 2022 effort in F3, Crawford has continued his accelerated learning curve that has included learning a new, more powerful car along with the nuances of the spec Pirelli tire, getting to grips with a new field of competitors, as well as taking on some new circuits for the first time as his scope of experience continues to expand globally.

As the F2 season takes a pause in parallel with the traditional Formula 1 summer break, Crawford has ten F2 weekends in the rear view mirror as he looks to make the most of the four week break to prepare for the final three events of the 2023 F2 season.

While the break will provide a welcome chance to train and catch up with his family, he is eager to get back behind the wheel to turn his fortunes around.  Following the breakthrough Sprint Race victory at Red Bull’s home track in July, Crawford has suffered from a pair of frustrating outings in the two most recent race weekends, Budapest and Spa-Franchorchamps.

The Hugaroring visit saw an abbreviated qualifying session cost Crawford through the rest of the weekend. The red flagged session meant that he hadn’t posted his best lap before the stoppage, leaving him with a time that locked him out of the lead pack as his banker lap slotted him back on the ninth row of the grid on a track that is famously challenging to pass on.

Despite some good starts and a lot of wheel to wheel battling just outside of the top-ten, Crawfords Hungary weekend saw him leave without points in either race.

“I made a really good start in the Sprint Race but from there on, it was quite a boring race, just following the car ahead in the train we had going,” Crawford explained.  “For the Feature Race, we started on the option tire with the soft compound. I made a good start again, was looking good, fighting for just outside the top 10. But then, when the person I was racing made the decision to box, I think we made quite a bold decision to go early in the box and I think this hurt us a lot. We probably could have gone on longer on the softer tire as we likely lost some pace from that.”

At Spa, which featured the traditional dose of ever-changing weather at the Belgian circuit,

rain began to fall in qualifying only moments after an early red flag period. Knowing he would get only one qualifying lap following their exit from the pits, Crawford timed in 12th fastest as heavy rain began midway through his lap. Conditions remained too treacherous throughout the final 27 minutes to prevent anyone from getting additional track time.

“Qualifying was really tough, because we weren’t sure how the track conditions would be,” he said. “For this weekend, we were completely at the back of the pit lane, so we obviously weren’t first on track. When we came out, rain was threatening, so it was just a ‘send it’ lap. It was really unfortunate, because I was on a really good lap and then it was pouring down rain when I got to the second half of the lap. At that point, I had to just survive the rain. Unfortunately, we missed out on the top 10, but it was a really solid lap before the rain came.”

On Saturday’s Sprint Race, Crawford didn’t get the start that he was looking for, losing positions at the opening of the 17-lap event. He was up to 17th before an early red flag, and then fought to gain several positions in the closing laps when the race was restarted.

“At the start, I made a mistake that put us in a tough position,” he admitted. “That was really unfortunate, because I think we could have had a decent race. Once I recovered from the start, there wasn’t much I could do. It was really tough to follow people this weekend and make overtakes, but I was able to save my tires behind people and I was waiting for everyone to drop off. I had really good pace at the end, and it’s too bad the race did not go a little bit longer.”

On Sunday, Crawford’s promising Feature Race run came to an end with less than 10 laps remaining when the 18-year-old Red Bull Junior was taken out in side-by-side contact in Turn 5 in a race run in dry conditions.

“The start of the race was definitely interesting, but to be honest, track conditions were not too bad and I was going for a top-eight, top-seven result in the Feature,” said Crawford. who was placed 17th in the final order. “We made the soft tires last long, and I was getting really good speed on the mediums. Unfortunately, then I had that incident.”

“Honestly, we were quite quick this weekend,” the Texan said. “It was unfortunate that qualifying was wet, and we were on for a really good result in the Feature Race – probably our best Feature Race of the year – and then the incident happened. I was happy with the driving this weekend. But due to circumstances, we just missed out on a few points.”

The hectic month of July saw four F2 events on five weekends, with Crawford scoring his first F2 victory in the Sprint Race at Austria’s Red Bull Ring. He now gets a month off before races at Zandvoort (August 25-26) and Monza (Sept. 1-2), with the campaign ending at Yas Marina in the United Arab Emirates on Nov. 24-25.

“Now we get a month off, and that’s a bit crazy because I want to get racing straight away,” he said. “It’s coming to the end of the season now. I love Zandvoort as a track, and I have always done well there and qualified well there. I’m looking forward to going back, and I think it could be a very strong track for me.”

Images via Red Bull Content Pool