It is always difficult to stay ahead of your rivals in a Championship as ruthlessly competitive as Formula 3, but Hitech Grand Prix rookie Jak Crawford feels that he’s got something of an upper hand heading into Round 2, as one of very few drivers with recent experience of Le Castellet.
The American racer took pole, three podiums, two wins and three fastest laps at Paul Ricard in the second round of the Euroformula Open Championship just over a month ago, getting to grips with the French circuit at lightning speed.
Despite being keen to play down expectations, the 16-year-old admitted he felt “lucky” to have raced at Le Castellet so recently, especially given that the circuit didn’t feature on the F3 calendar last season.
“I think I adjusted to the track nicely and almost made it three out of three wins. I just missed out on the final race,” said Crawford. “I got a bit lucky that we raced at Le Castellet in Euroformula ahead of Formula 3. It was a really good weekend.
“I had the most pace and now I know the track quite well, so hopefully that can translate into Formula 3, even though it is a different driving style and a very different track. The braking zones are less traditional than other tracks, where it’s almost like stomping the brake as hard as you can, whereas here you are turning and braking at the same time.
“It is a difficult track, but I think it is an advantage (to have driven here recently) for sure. Any track time is an advantage, and hopefully we can make the most of that.”
Even though he scored his first F3 points on his debut weekend, Crawford admitted that he wasn’t wholly satisfied with Round 1 in Barcelona, pointing to Qualifying as a key area of improvement.
Starting from 20th wasn’t how he envisaged his first weekend, and it limited his potential points tally, but the American talked up to the team’s race pace as proof of their quality.
“You always want more points,” he continued. “We messed up Quali as a team and were further down than we should have been, but the race pace was really good, as shown by the fact we qualified 20th and ended up ninth in the second race.
“I think everyone will be looking to improve in Qualifying because it’s the most important session of the weekend, so everyone is always trying to find more. As a team, we are working to get it right.
“I want to qualify well, preferably inside of the top six, or at least in the top half, because I think my race pace is really good. We have a good car in the races, and I think in the reverse grids I would be able to get up there and fight for some podiums and top-five finishes.”