Strong Silverstone weekend as Crawford back on F2 podium

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Strong Silverstone weekend as Crawford back on F2 podium

Silverstone (UK), JUL 4-7 2023 - F1 British GP 2024 at Silverstone Circuit. Jak CRAWFORD #7 Dams. © 2024 Dutch Photo Agency

Crosses line in first but post-race penalty costs American second Feature Race victory

SILVERSTONE, England (8 July 2024) – Jak Crawford scored a third-place finish in Sunday’s Feature Race at Silverstone, wrapping up his third-consecutive double-points finish as the FIA Formula 2 Championship entered the second half of the 2024 season.

It was a productive but bittersweet weekend for the 19-year-old American Formula 1 hopeful. Crawford was the first driver to take the checkered flag on Sunday after a strong drive to the front, but a five-second penalty for an unsafe pit release dropped him to third – as he missed out on another Feature race victory by just 1.8-seconds, and second place by only one-tenth of a second.

“It was a perfect race,” said the DAMS Lucas Oil driver. “It was a good drive, good pace but unfortunate for the penalty, of course. I feel I did everything right. We had lots of speed, and we were clearly the quickest car. Without the penalty, it would have been one that I would remember forever.”

Gridded seventh on soft tires, Crawford used an outside pass to quickly move to fourth as rain began to fall on the circuit. A pair of incidents led to two safety car periods in the early laps, and he was second when he made his mandatory pit stop on Lap 9 to switch to the harder-compound tire.

Following a quick stop, the Texan just edged a competitor out of the pits, but was noted for an unsafe release as he rejoined the race in 14th position.

“It’s a bit unfortunate how the rules worked, because he wasn’t even in the fast lane when they released my lollypop,” he explained. “It was safe, because there was no one in the fast lane, but because of the dynamic of how it works, it was a penalty.”

Crawford made the move of the race on Lap 19, passing two cars to take the effective race lead behind cars still to make their mandatory stops. At the same time, though, a five-second penalty for the pit infraction was posted.

“That pass was pretty sweet,” Crawford said. “I could see it happening ahead, I could see I would have an opportunity. I was saving my tires up until that point, and then – all of a sudden – I found myself in the [virtual] race lead. Then I could push maximum.”

Crawford charged for the final 11 laps, setting several fastest race laps in the process. He took the actual race lead with two laps remaining, pushing all the way to attempt to gap his rivals for the podium.

“After I made the pass [for the virtual race lead}, I didn’t do one bit of saving,” he said. “It was flat out until the end. I could see them in my mirrors, so I knew it wasn’t five seconds, but I knew I was on the podium anyway, so I might as well send it off and make up as much time as possible. At the end, it was super close. In a normal race, if they issued the penalty after the race, they wouldn’t have been pushing so much and I could have taken the win despite the penalty. I only just missed out by a tenth of a second on P2.”

Crawford’s run to the Feature race followed a strong performance in Saturday’s sprint, held in extremely challenging rainy conditions that led to a midrace red flag. He started fourth and ran in the top-six throughout the race to take sixth at the finish.

“It was a bit chaotic, and really wet at some points,” he said. “We struggled a little bit with the car. It was a small error that made a big difference in how the tires degraded, and it won’t happen again.”

Seventh in rainy opening practice, Crawford managed to place seventh in qualifying, moving from 15th to sixth in the final four minutes.

“Our main thing to fix is our qualifying,” he said. “We haven’t been performing the best, and qualifying is very important. We’ll get on our best game to make that good.”

Crawford ends a stretch of three-consecutive race weekends with six top-10 finishes. He finished fourth and took his first F2 Feature Race victory at Barcelona, and then was sixth and 10th at Spielberg. The mid-season surge netted 52 points, moving him to sixth in the championship with 84 counters.

“It seems we have the best points streak at the moment, with three strong weekends in a row and two Feature Race wins on track – but only one stood. It’s been a strong three weeks, and it’s still pretty close in the points with six rounds to go. Anything can happen, and there’s no reason why we can’t be confident for the rest of the year.”

There’s only a one-week break before competition resumes with another stretch of back-to-back events. Next up is Hungaroring in Budapest on July 20-21, followed by Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps on July 27-28.

“Hungaroring will come up quick, even though we have a week off. It suits our car well, especially in the race, and I think we can fight for another Feature Race win.”