Jak Crawford has his eyes firmly set on the prize and his chief rival for the Formula 3 Drivers' Championship, Victor Martins. The PREMA Racing driver says leaving Barcelona with only eight points dropped to the Championship leader was a win in itself.
While the Frenchman added a second Feature Race victory to his record in 2022, Crawford had to settle for P2 in the Sprint Race and sixth in the Feature event. It leaves him 12 points adrift of the leader in the standings, but the American said he was happy overall with his performance at the weekend.
“I'd say it was a tough, tough week for sure," he explained. "We had the Qualifying pace, but I got a bit unlucky with some traffic on my final run. I didn’t really get to set a representative time so was unlucky to be P9, without that we would’ve been higher.
“After that in both of the races, I think I maximised the results and maximised the points. Race one, I could’ve had one more point but that’s it. Sixth place was the best I could get in race two with all the Safety Cars and DRS trains. In the end, despite Qualifying, I'm quite happy to only lose eight points to (Victor) Martins, that was a bit of a win in my book.”
Crawford battled for the Sprint Race victory with eventual winner David Vidales. He trailed the Campos Racing car for the entirety of the race but couldn't navigate a route past the Spaniard. With hot temperatures leading to high tyre degradation, managing the Pirelli tyres was a crucial element throughout the weekend.
In the first race, it allowed Crawford to pressure Vidales throughout. However, with a DRS train forming in the top 10 and with Safety Car interruptions during the Feature Race, drivers were able to push more, something that hindered Crawford's approach to the weekend.
“We knew the tyre degradation was going to be quite high, so I was sort of taking it to my advantage in the first race. In previous rounds, I'd taken the degradation into my advantage, I was super quick the last couple of laps in Barcelona.
"(In the Feature Race) there were a couple of Safety Cars, which meant we were running less laps on the tyres and it just allowed everyone to push to the maximum every lap without having massive degradation. With all the DRS trains, no one was dropping off with degradation, so it was basically impossible to pass. Not unless someone made a mistake."
While he was happy with the bigger picture in the title fight with Martins, Crawford did admit that he may have stood a better chance of winning the Sprint with a different approach.
“Consistency is going to play a big key, I've scored five times in a row now"
During Saturday’s race, the PREMA man had one real attempt at wrestling the lead away from Vidales, but he was forced to take to the escape road at Turn 2 on Lap 11. On reflection, the American believes that had he continued in the wheel tracks of the leader ahead, he could have bided his time and found a way through later.
“Looking back, I could have been more patient with myself and waited on the move and not take such a risky move when I didn't have to. I had the speed advantage at that point. So (it’s) something to learn from - just being more patient. I could have won that race if I had just been more patient and settled for trying on another lap.”
Refocusing on the Championship, Crawford heads into round four at Silverstone just 12 points off of Martins with Roman Stanek sat in second, with just six points splitting them. Stanek and Crawford were able to score in both races but still didn't beat the weekend tally of the ART Grand Prix driver following his Feature Race win.
Crawford believes that his consistency has been the main factor in his Championship challenge so far this season. He extended his scoring streak to five consecutive races going back to the Bahrain Feature Race. It’s the longest such streak of any driver on the F3 grid following Barcelona.
“Consistency is going to play a big key, especially in the Feature Races. There are so many points on the table so it's important to be consistent. So far, with the three podiums in a row and scoring five times in a row now, I'm in the top 10 in the Championship. I'd like to win of course, I'd like to be on the top step but at the end of the day, going for a championship, I'll take any points I can get.
“Silverstone looks really, really nice to drive. I love the Maggotts and Becketts part, one of my favourite sections of track I've ever driven. I think it's a very, very fun track. I love to drive there. I haven't driven there in F3 yet, so we'll see how it is. It should be an interesting weekend. We’re a third of the way through the season so we'll start seeing the Championship picture in time. It's time to improve on everything and start the second half of the season well.”