ABU DAHBI, United Arab Emerates (27 Nov. 2023) – American Jak Crawford finished up his rookie FIA Formula 2 season with a points-paying 10th-place finish at the Yas Marina Circuit.
After starting deep in the pack, Crawford made a good start but was then slowed by an issue during his pit stop, returning to the fray to then race into a points-paying 10th position on the final lap of the season.
The 18-year-old Texan had impressive early runs in both races of the weekend, which will mark his final events with both the Red Bull Junior Academy and Hitech Pulse-Eight Racing as he looks forward to a new chapter and a return to F2 in 2024.
Crawford’s rookie season saw him score his first F2 victory in the Sprint Race at Spielberg’s Red Bull Ring, along with his first pole at Zandvoort, where he notched a third-place finish in the Feature Race. He ended up with six top-10s in Features and four in Sprints, for a total of 10 top-10 finishes and seven top-10 qualifying results.
“A victory, a pole, five podiums, I’m definitely happy with what I showed,” he said. “Next year will be about improving on that, working on being consistent every weekend. We should be proud of this race. Finishing 10th was a good result, especially after starting 19th, and knowing we could have had more. From the first stint, we were fighting for position.”
Coming off a layoff of two-and-a-half months, Crawford quickly got up to pace at Yas Marina, running 14th in the lone practice session. He was 10th midway through qualifying, only to fall back to place a disappointing 19th in the closing moments of the session.
“It was a long time with no driving, so practice was a matter of getting into the swing of things,” he said. “Then in qualifying, we had an issue with the tire warmup, and was struggling to put a lap together. Overall, we struggled a bit with the warmup and managing the tires. We didn’t have enough pace for top-five, but for sure we should have been in the top 10.”
Gridded 19th for the Sprint, Crawford passed four cars before the safety car came out late on lap one. He gained a place on each of the first two laps after the restart, running in 13th for the remainder of the 23-lap Sprint.
“The Sprint Race was a lot more boring, because everyone was on the same strategy that left overtaking and stuff like that difficult,” he said. “It was all about getting through that first stint and making as many positions as possible.”
He again had a strong start in the 33-lap Feature, and went from 19th to 13th in only two laps. Running 10th on the soft-compound tires, he pitted on lap seven, but fell to 20th after the stop.
“We had a slow pit stop, because the right-rear wheel didn’t attach properly,” Crawford said. “Also I made a mistake on the out lap so we lost a total of about six-seven seconds, and that definitely hurt our race today.”
Slowly working his way through the pack, he was 11th with four laps remaining and moved to a points paying 10th on the final lap.
Crawford is already chomping at the bit to get going for 2024, extending his stay in Abu Dahbi for several days as he prepares for a test with DAMS.
“I have no plans yet for the offseason,” he said. “We have testing for three days here in Abu Dahbi with DAMS. It will be a big change, not having the Red Bull helmet or suit any more, but I think we will be a perfectly fine team. It will be quite a short off-season, because we’ll be back testing again in January. I look forward to relaxing along with preparing for next season.”