Jak Crawford has set his expectations high after hitting the ground running in Budapest, topping the opening session of the weekend in Free Practice. The PREMA Racing driver ended up a tenth clear of the chasing pack, with Trident’s Zane Maloney his closest rival.
After the opening 45-minute session of the weekend, Crawford was very satisfied with the morning’s work. The American indicated that he was already happy with the direction the team was going in ahead of Qualifying and that he expected a strong result to follow.
“It’s always nice to start out the weekend good,” he said. “Last year, when we came here, that was my main problem. When we started, I didn’t adapt quick enough to the circuit so I’m glad to see that’s changed. The speed is looking really good heading into Qualifying so I’m happy with it.
“Anywhere in the top three or five will be the aim. I think anyone in the top three can fight but any lower, at this track where it’s so difficult to pass, we’re really not looking for that.”
While PREMA took victory last season at the Hungaroring in the third race that weekend, Crawford said that the Italian team entered the weekend without raised expectations despite their prior form in Budapest.
The Red Bull junior said that the balance was already in a sweet spot, which suited the corner-intensive layout of the circuit.
“I didn’t know what to expect from the car because this track is a bit different to the previous rounds but the feeling in the car was really good. I was really happy with it.
“The track is mostly corners so it’s a bit of a different setup to other tracks like the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone, so I’m happy with the balance. We’re already quicker than the Qualifying times from last year so I think we have a good balance and quite close on things already.”
The main issue that Crawford foresees derailing his chances of securing pole is one that every driver will be dealing with come the 30-minute session: traffic.
With the Hungaroring being one of the shortest tracks on the calendar and without much of a break in the lap due to its composition as a corner-heavy circuit, getting a clean run in will be vital to any driver’s hopes of securing a good result.
There is no planning for the problem either despite everyone expecting to encounter at least one problem during the session according to the PREMA driver, who also highlighted the rising temperatures as another hurdle to overcome.
“We’re gonna have to deal with it on the fly. We’re quite used to it in these F3 Qualifying sessions. It’s a lot of traffic to deal with, not just on the lap but it can affect warm-up as well. So we’ll have to be on it and do our best to stay out of it.
“Track temps are going up 20 degrees so it’ll hurt the tyres quite a lot. We’ll definitely have one push and I’m sure people will try to do three runs which will make it quite chaotic. We’ll have to see how it goes.”