If Jak Crawford had to pick one moment that completely transformed his life, signing for one of the biggest and most successful Formula 1 driver academies at only 14 years old has to be up there.
Taking some time before his rookie Formula 2 season draws to a close with the season finale at Yas Marina, the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver reflects on three of the key moments on his journey up to that point. The American delves in and gives his honest take on his on-track mistakes, realisations and some of the things he’s had to learn the hard way living on his own in the UK.
SIGNING WITH THE RED BULL JUNIOR TEAM
“The first moment was in 2019 at the end of the year when I signed with Red Bull. I had a school trip to Australia planned that I had to cancel to go do a test in an F4 car with Red Bull. It went really well and that is probably the moment that changed my life the most over the past four years.
“So, it all happened very quick! It all happened within two weeks from picking up the phone to signing a contract, so it was very quick. At that moment, I’d already basically almost signed a contract to race in the US Road to Indy for 2020 and then all of a sudden, Red Bull wanted me in Europe racing in German and Italian F4 and that’s what started it all really. I felt a bit shocked at first because it wasn’t even like I was racing in Europe and at that moment, I wasn’t even a thought, I didn’t think it was an option, so I feel super lucky.
“It’s been really good to me so far, I can’t complain. This is my fourth year with them, and it feels like a part of me now, I’ve been with Red Bull for a long time. They’ve helped me in numerous ways become a better driver, become a bit more mature and helping me on and off-track as well, so it’s all been very positive.”
MOVING TO THE UK
“The second moment would be moving into my own apartment and getting my own car at 16, quite young obviously to be living on my own and having my own car. It kind of made me as a person have to step up and have more maturity, it may not seem like it sometimes! That was a very important moment in my life, and it was just over 13 months ago now that I’ve been living on my own.
“Actually, I may have been 17 by then, but like just a week after I turned 17. I’d had times over the previous years in karting and F4 where I’d spend a couple of months on my own maybe or a couple of weeks, but nothing like what it is now where I have my own apartment I take care of, I have my own bills, do my own laundry, shopping and all that goes with it. Also having my own car as well, so I have to drive myself everywhere, do things an adult would at quite a young age I felt.
“I’m an only child, so it’s just me, my mum and my dad. We’re not too close with any other family, so it’s just sort of us. I think it’s definitely a bit tougher on them because I’m their only child and they’ve grown up with me my entire life. It’s tough sometimes. I do miss them, but they always come to a race, so I see my parents often still, it’s just that I’m never at home really.
“Still to this day, I’m asking my parents for advice on a lot of things because there are still so many things that I have no idea how to do, I’m learning every day always. At first you go into it thinking you know everything and you don’t need help from anyone, but you definitely do need help from people, and you need advice.
“I’m not that bad at cleaning. I could probably do a much better job at vacuuming but basically the problem is, I go for a race, it’s dirty and then I leave in two days. So why should I vacuum if it’s going to be dirty when I get back? It’s been quite dirty at times, but maybe once a month I’ll fully vacuum the floors and stuff. It’s actually not that bad, if you’re really committed it doesn’t take that long. It’s just when you’re slow and procrastinating, then it gets more annoying.
“I’ve already messed up a few t-shirts in the laundry I’ll be honest from my new jeans. I accidentally mixed them with some nice AlphaTauri shirts that were light coloured, and it didn’t go well!”
LAST YEAR’S F3 ZANDVOORT FEATURE RACE
“I started third, I had lots of speed and on the Safety Car restart, I was going for second and I locked up completely in Turn 1 and fell to ninth. I was able to actually make up positions around Zandvoort and get back up to sixth. That was sort of a moment where I realised that I was making almost too many mistakes over the year, and it sort of changed me as a driver.
“At the restart, in my head there was just a massive urgency to win the race. Obviously, I was in a good position, and I knew I was quick. If I won the race, that was my chance to get back into the Championship fight, which I was previously in and I wasn’t able to do that.
“It was really difficult. I think actually like two or three laps later, I tried my first overtake and I basically just drove off the track again. Obviously, I was a bit frustrated, but then I just sort of settled down and you realise that you’re really fast and get into a rhythm. You use that sort of anger from the mistake to help push forward a bit more.
“For a season where you’re racing week after week with not many breaks, I think it’s more important to just forget that it happened and talk about quite a bit later. I think at that point, I was almost a realisation that the dream for the year was over and I knew I’d made mistakes previously in the year, but this one just felt a little worse than the others.”