Jak Crawford secured his first FIA Formula 3 race victory in what was a hectic Sprint Race around the Red Bull Ring. The PREMA Racing driver was clinical in taking the lead of the race from Caio Collet, who ended up second while Franco Colapinto took his second podium of the 2022 season.
PREMA didn’t have things all its own way. Mid-race contact for Oliver Bearman relegated the Briton outside of the top five, though Arthur Leclerc was able to close the gap to Championship leader Victor Martins to just a single point, 79 versus 80 respectively having climbed up to fourth place from ninth on the grid.
AS IT HAPPENED
Collet covered off Correa to retain the lead into the first corner while Franco Colapinto challenged Crawford for third. Further back it was as much as four wide entering Turn 3.
Correa got a run into Turn 4 and went around the outside of the MP Motorsport car to take the lead. Colapinto also managed to sneak through on Crawford in the same place before a Safety Car was deployed and neutralised the battles. Rafael Villagomez had come to a halt at Turn 3 necessitating a recovery of the Van Amersfoort Racing car. He was involved in the squeeze at T3, and minor contact resulted in damage. David Vidales was also involved in a Lap 1 mishap and was in for a new front wing to re-join the last of the remaining runners.
The Safety Car was withdrawn entering Lap 4 and it was three Tridents that were instantly wheel-to-wheel. As Zane Maloney and Roman Stanek scrapped, Jonny Edgar slipped up the inside of the pair of them at Turn 4, emerging in P6 until Maloney fought back at the following corner to retake the place.
Correa’s strong start was for nought as on Lap Six he coasted to a halt from the race lead to leave Collet at the head of the field. Arthur Leclerc and Kaylen Frederick had been scrapping for eighth position following the Safety Car, but the Monégasque finally nailed a move into Turn 3 on the seventh lap, diving down the inside and finishing it off into Turn 4.
Up ahead on the next lap, Oliver Bearman made a late dive down the inside of Stanek to steal sixth position. His move opened the door for Leclerc at Turn 4 and both PREMA drivers were through on the Trident man. William Alatalo pulled off to the side of the circuit further back which brought out a Virtual Safety Car to recover the Jenzer Motorsport car.
The VSC expired heading onto Lap 10 and Edgar capitalised on it to relegate teammate Maloney to fifth. Crawford made it P2 for PREMA with a move on Colapinto at T3. A late dive into Turn 3 by Leclerc caused yet more fireworks as he went three-wide with teammate Bearman and Maloney. On corner exit, Bearman and Maloney made contact, pitching the Trident around as Bearman fell to ninth. The Trident driver was out, and another Safety Car was deployed to move the car away.
The track was clear on Lap 14 and as racing resumed Crawford was immediately alongside Collet entering Turn 3 and through into the fight for the lead. Their battle wasn’t resolved until Turn 7 after the American stuck with him around the outside before swooping into the lead with a brave move.
One lap later and Leclerc repeated his teammate’s effort to take fourth from Edgar in the same place. Bearman almost made it three from three for PREMA at Turn 7 after another tour but had to concede in his battle with Victor Martins for eighth position.
Trident’s fight continued as Stanek took back fifth from teammate Edgar on Lap 17 with DRS assistance. Edgar was holding on to his teammate but a wide moment on the exit of Turn 7 opened the door for Frederick to relegate him down to seventh.
Martins tried a move into Turn 3 on the following lap but had to get on the brakes to avoid contact with the Trident. That opened the door for Bearman into Turn 6, and he finally nailed a move on the ART Grand Prix driver.
Entering the final lap, the top four was separated by just over two seconds with race leader Crawford the only one without DRS. Despite the disadvantage, the PREMA driver held on to secure his first win in the third tier, ahead of Collet and Colapinto. Leclerc’s charge ended with fourth position ahead of Stanek.
A five-second time penalty for Bearman relegated him from sixth to 16th, after he was deemed to have left the track and gained a lasting advantage. Frederick took sixth position ahead of Martins, Smolyar and Isack Hadjar.
KEY QUOTE – Jak Crawford, PREMA Racing
“My first win in F3, it was a really fun race. I lost a position at the start and knew that it was going to be a really long race, I just had to stay up there and make my way one-by-one. I had a great battle with Caio on the Safety Car restart. It was a stressful final five laps but I managed to get the win.”
THE CHAMPIONSHIP VIEW
Leclerc’s P4 finish and fastest lap move the Monégasque driver to within a single point of the Championship lead. Martins still leads the way, now on 80 points. Hadjar remains third with 71 points followed by Crawford who rises to fourth, now on 70 points ahead of Roman Stanek on 67.
PREMA Racing extends its lead in the Teams’ Standings with another 18 points, bringing its tally up to 193 points. ART Grand Prix remains in second, now on 116, while Hitech Grand Prix narrowly remains ahead of Trident, 99 points to 98.
The Formula 3 Feature Race will take place at 08.35 local time to bring Round 5 to a close.