Jak Crawford turned a few heads in post-season testing last year, debuting in Formula 3 at just 15-years-old. Despite his age, the new Hitech Grand Prix driver says he firmly agrees with the Red Bull Academy’s decision to promote him into Formula 3 this season, labelling it as an “exciting next step.”

The American - who will turn 16 five days before the start of the season - joins Hitech on the back of finishing second in ADAC Formula 4 where he impressed with 5 wins and 12 podiums in his first full season of European single-seater racing.

Crawford also finished sixth in Italian F4 as part of a dual campaign. Both he and Red Bull felt that another year at that level would have stalled his progression.

It was Red Bull's idea. They felt that I was ready and I definitely agreed with their decision.

“I think that my year in F4 last season was really good and that there was no real reason to stay at that level,” he explained. “I fought at the front in both Championships that I did, and I’d already fought for the title in ADAC F4. I felt like it was necessary to make the step up.

“It was Red Bull's idea. They felt that I was ready and I definitely agreed with their decision. I was really happy that they felt that way.

“I am very excited. It’s quite a big step, but I am excited to get into a faster car on a very competitive field. I think that it will be a really important year for me and my future.”

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Crawford got a feel for how high the standard is during post-season testing and already feels that he is a better driver for the experience, though he’s under no illusions as to how tough it will be once the 2021 season is underway.

“It is quite a big step,” he continued. “I learned a lot in F4, but the F3 cars are very different. They have a lot more downforce and a lot more speed. I think I learned a lot about the car in post-season testing though and now it will be about getting as many laps done as possible in pre-season testing to ensure that I'm ready.

“I need to learn how to use the downforce going into the corners, for example. The braking was a big difference for me as well, especially during the first couple of days when I was trying to find where to brake to get that little bit of extra time. There was always more time to find.

“Tyre management is another element to learn. The Pirellis we ran in F4 were a lot different compared to the ones I’ll be using in F3. You only really get one lap in Qualifying to get it right and then they’re gone. In the races you really have to manage them throughout. I feel like I learned a lot, but there is still more to learn.”

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Once he gets up to speed, the American is confident he can compete for podiums and wins.

“I haven’t set myself any specific targets,” he explained. “I think that I would be happy with top five/top three in the championship. I'd say that’s the ultimate goal this season.

“Hitech have had two good years in a row in F3, taking podiums and winning races. They are a very competitive team and the testing I did with them went very well. I feel that it can be a really good combination for this year.

“Realistically, I think that I would just like to get the most out of the car and the most out of myself. If I can out-perform my teammates, then I think that would be a good season.”