Formula 2’s latest American driver Jak Crawford has made the step up from Formula 3 this year, but it’s a race from that Championship that sticks out to him most for multiple reasons.
Throwing it back to last season, Crawford picked out a tricky weekend early in the year that tested the drivers in all conditions. The 2022 Imola event sticks out in the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver’s mind as an enjoyable challenge around one of his favourite tracks on the calendar.
“The race was Imola 2022 in F3. Imola is my favourite track to drive. I love every lap, I love driving around there and so that's also why it's one of my favourite weekends.
“I remember FP I did no laps because it was so wet there were a bunch of Red Flags, so we had no Practice and were straight into Qualifying. That was also wet but it was drying out. I remember I was really slow the first run and then on the second run on the very last lap, I went up to third. I think I was barely inside the top 10 and went almost to pole.
"I started ninth for the Sprint Race because someone had a grid penalty and I finished third. That was my first podium of last season.
"It was a very wet weekend in general and my rained a lot overnight, on the Sunday we had the Feature Race very early in the morning and the track was still wet. It wasn't raining anymore, but the track was still very wet.
"On the grid, you never know what the best way to go is. We went out on slick tyres to the to the grid, trying to put temperature in the tyres and I just remember thinking slicks was absolutely the wrong choice because I was barely staying on track. I was driving like a snail on that lap. I couldn't get any temperature, it was really bad. Then I just remember basically there was no more rain expected and everyone around me was starting on slicks, so we just had to do what everyone else was doing. There was no need to take the risk of going to wets.
"I think there were around 10 people that put on wet tires on the grid and then all the rest of us at the front put on slicks. So that was it and I just remember just I knew it was gonna be crazy. You saw the guys that went on the wets going really well and at first I was like ‘oh, it's gonna be a long day today.’ I remember it was mostly people who started at the back that went with the wets and already by the first and second lap they were past me. I was struggling a lot.
"That first lap was probably one of the most difficult laps in my life. There was so much happening, cars on wet tyres passing me and I was just trying to survive because I knew that just needed to keep it on track for the rest of the race. The gap would increase to those guys but as the laps went by, it only increased a little bit, then eventually we were quicker. So that was a relief.
"Then there were a few Safety Cars. My speed wasn't very good, but I stayed in third for majority of the race and then by the end of the race, everyone’s tyres fell off and I think I was around four seconds away from the lead with just three or four laps ago. I ended up in second place, seven or eight-tenths from the lead. Everyone dropped off and I just kept getting better, so it was a really fun last three to four laps. I was able to pass my teammate and get into second. I just missed the win, but that was a really fun weekend, and it really got my season going."