Crawford survives mixed conditions for maiden F2 win
By Mat Coch
Saturday 1st July, 2023 - 11:27pm
Jak Crawford won from pole position, surviving mixed conditions to take his maiden Formula 2 victory in Austria.
The Hitech driver headed Victor Martins and Clement Novalak, the latter having risen from the second last row of the grid to the podium.
A rain shower moments before the start complicated the tyre choice for drivers; the field split almost 50-50 from wets to slicks.
A strong start saw Crawford lead from pole while Jack Doohan rose to fourth.
Arthur Leclerc took the lead on wet tyres at Turn 7, Crawford skating wide on the slippery track.
Behind him, Doohan ran off the road and through the gravel but was able to keep going and eventually emerge out the other side.
He was more fortunate than Jehan Daruvala, who spun out at Turn 6 and buried his car in the gravel to trigger the Safety Car.
Many, but not all, of those who’d started on the wets took the opportunity to swap to the slicks under the neutralisation.
The race restarted on Lap 5, Richard Verschoor spinning out of second place as he accelerated out of Turn 1.
It prompted another Safety Car as the Van Amersfoort Racing driver climbed out after impacting the barrier with the right-rear tyres.
Leclerc took to the lane for the slicks, dropping him down the order and restoring Crawford to the lead.
The second interruption was brief, the green flag waving as the field started Lap 8 with Crawford leading Juan Manuel Correa and the wet-shod Zane Maloney.
A mix of tyre choice and temperatures saw a busy midfield, Doohan scything through the chaos to rise to seventh, having been last midway around the opening lap.
Conditions had improved such that those left on the wets quickly fell down the order, Maloney accepting his fate and diving into the pits.
Going the other way was Isack Hadjar, who’d started 21st but climbed to fifth.
Victor Martins also progressed, moving through the field to sit second behind Crawford after 16 laps.
On Lap 18, Enzo Fittipaldi spun on the run out of Turn 3 to trigger the Virtual Safety Car.
The Brazilian lost the engine, forcing him out of the race.
He’d been battling with Kush Maini, being pushed onto the grass on drivers’ right, which triggered Fittipaldi into a spin.
The car was recovered quickly and the field was racing again on Lap 20.
Crawford remained clear in the remaining seven laps to record his first Formula 2 race win.
Martins claimed second from Clement Novalak and Hadjar, Correa slipping to fifth at the flag.
A late move from Dennis Hauger saw Doohan lose a spot, the Australian slipping to eighth after 27 laps of racing.
However, the order across the line is almost certain to change, with a raft of post-race investigations for Safety Car infringements and on-track incidents.
None will affect Crawford, however, with the Hitech driver’s maiden victory safe.