Jak Crawford says he’s opting for the cautious approach this weekend after narrowly avoiding getting caught up in drama on the opening lap of the Sprint Race.

Starting 10th on the reverse grid, a poor getaway off the line left the PREMA Racing driver with a front row seat to view the contact between Franco Colapinto and Roman Stanek into Turn 1, forcing him to take evasive action to avoid getting tangled up himself.

Fortunately for him, Crawford managed to get past the pair unscathed went on to secure ninth. The PREMA driver believes that other than that, it was a relatively quiet morning as he was unable to strike against his rivals – due to the medium Pirelli compounds not degrading as much as drivers and teams expected pre-race.

“With the people on the right-hand side getting a bad start, it made everyone come to one spot. I think there were like five cars, including me, in the one area where they crashed. Luckily, I was able to make it out alive, but it’s always very crazy on the first lap here.

“The race went by quick; we didn’t really do much battling. I was starting on the right side of the grid which was really dirty, and I had a poor start. Then I think there was a crash in Turn 1, which I was able to avoid. After that, we were just running behind each other, I knew that I had to be patient and wait for the degradation. By the end, he stayed ahead with some degradation but never fell off enough for me to complete a pass.”

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From the opening lap onwards, Crawford’s eyeline was dominated by the sight of Sebastian Montoya’s rear wing, as the Red Bull junior struggled to find his way through on the Campos Racing rookie. Stuck in a DRS train from second place downwards, he acknowledged that there was a very limited window of opportunity to strike around the twisty Zandvoort circuit.

“The only real overtaking opportunity is in Turn 1, and I only had the run twice. The first time I was able to get close and and go on his outside, but I didn't have the momentum or the grip at that stage to really make it stick. When the others also have DRS and are in the slipstream it makes it difficult to overtake."

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While his Saturday was a game of survival, his Sunday plans should involve fighting for the podium starting from third on the grid. Considering the lack of overtaking spots around the 4.259km track’s 14 turns, Crawford reckons that his start off the line will be critical alongside potential tyre degradation leaving those around him vulnerable.

“I felt like I was a little bit quicker than most of the people I had with me in the race today, so I feel like we have really good speed. It was just about getting in clean air and being able to show that speed, which I wasn’t really able to do.

“Tomorrow will be a completely different race for me at least. Starting at the front, we’ll be looking to get a good start and then see what happens after that. I think it’s going to come down to tyre degradation.”

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As the 2022 season approaches its final three races, Crawford sits 29 points adrift of Championship leader Isack Hadjar and the American driver admitted that the vast gap has left him putting the title fight out of his mind for now.

“Anything is possible in Formula 3 as we’ve seen over the year so far. At the moment, I’m too far away to really think about the Championship like that. I’m just taking it race by race and trying to get the best result possible.”