Jak Crawford was announced as a Prema Racing driver for the 2022 FIA Formula 3 Championship in January.
Since then, he’s competed in the Formula Regional Asian Championship (FRAC) with Abu Dhabi Racing by Prema.
The Red Bull junior driver took three podiums and a fastest lap in his first outings since a maiden FIA F3 campaign with Hitech GP in 2021.
Prema’s involvement in FRAC has given Crawford some key experience in working with the team as he looks to build on his sole podium finish in Race 1 at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps last year.
“[FRAC] was definitely a learning series for me,” the American said.
“First time in the car, first time with the same Prema engineer I will have for F3. It was my fourth different type of car in 14 months, but the first time I have ever had to use a non-pre-loaded clutch.”
That clutch took some adapting to. He stalled in Race 1 at two separate rounds, while further poor starts limited his progress.
“We just didn’t prepare enough in advance and I didn’t have enough time between the concurrent five-week series to figure out the clutch properly and confidently,” he added.
“It was my fault on the starts but we could have prepared better. Results and points just were not [what we had hoped for] before the season started.”
Three podiums at Yas Marina Circuit and Dubai Autodrome sweetened the deal a little before the 16-year-old headed to Grisignano di Zocco to link up with Prema for a full FIA F3 season.
“I was quick most of the events with good pace and racecraft. We certainly didn’t nail the car the entire time but I didn’t make a lot of mistakes. We were learning every time out.
“Prema had a big programme for this championship; me and my team-mate [Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team junior] Paul Aron had different equipment from some of our other team-mates in the Mumbai Falcons cars.
“I think Paul will be a front-runner for Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine in 2022 and I will be a front-runner in FIA F3 so I am looking ahead, not behind.
“I want to fight at the front of the FIA F3 grid. That was and is the only goal. We wanted my engineer to try things with me and for me to try things with the car.
“We wanted to fully know each other and how we work. I think it was very successful from that perspective.
“We really get on together great so it is going to be a good year. We are ready to proceed to that main goal and it starts this week.
“Thank goodness we get to switch out to the superior FIA F3 car which I am really ready for.”
FIA F3 testing begins at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir from 2-4 March, before the season begins there on 17-19 March.
“I have unfinished business from 2021 but by no means am I the front-runner,” the 16-year-old added.
“I think my team-mate, Arthur Leclerc, is the one to beat and will have the most pressure on him, especially after [winning] FRAC. He is the lead Prema car for sure.
“There is a much stronger field than last year with returning drivers in good equipment like Victor Martins, Jonny Edgar, Caio Collet, Alex Smolyar and some new talents.
“I am still the 16-year-old underdog, nipping on the heels of these guys!”