Jak Crawford prevailed in one of the most dramatic Formula 2 qualifying sessions of the season, surviving three stoppages on his way to claiming pole for Sunday’s Feature Race.
Crawford’s time of 1:21.244 looked likely to be bettered by Dennis Hauger, but the Norwegian driver was unable to complete a pole-worthy lap amid the stoppages. He ended the session second fastest, just 0.034s adrift, with Frederik Vesti third fastest.
With track position often a determining factor for success at Zandvoort, the pressure was on for the championship contenders to perform.
Alpine Academy members Victor Martins and Jack Doohan fought fiercely over track position in the opening minutes. Martins passed Doohan on the final corner before the latter, desperate for track position, attempted to re-pass Martins on the main straight before being ushered towards the pit wall by the ART GP driver.
Despite the tussle, Doohan initially clocked the fastest time. Hitech’s Jak Crawford was soon to displace the Virtuosi driver, setting a 1:21.210 to lead proceedings at the halfway mark.
Fellow Red Bull junior Dennis Hauger sat second just 0.034s back, while Frederik Vesti was the fastest of the championship protagonists in third. The Mercedes junior lost the championship lead to Theo Pourchaire in Belgium, and now trails by 12 points.
There was drama for Crawford, who sustained wing damage when leaving the pitlane ahead of the second runs. Replays showed that Clement Novalak had run over Crawford’s front wing as drivers all battled for position in a tight pitlane at the Zandvoort track.
The session was red flagged with seven minutes remaining after a spin for Jehan Daruvala. The MP Motorsport driver’s running was ended by a spin on the exit of Turn 3, resulting in contact with the barriers, denying him the chance to steal pole.
While the session would resume, it was stopped just before drivers could complete their next flying laps as Juan Manuel Correa then found himself beached in the gravel.
Hauger was the biggest loser from Correa’s spin, setting a time good enough for provisional pole after the red flag flew. After early confusion, Hauger’s lap time was confirmed to have been deleted as he was a few hundred metres off the timing line when the stoppage occurred.
The stoppage would give drivers one more chance to improve with the knowledge that another Red Flag would bring the session to an end. And that third and final Red Flag arrived as Novalak also found the barriers at the exit of Turn 3.
The stoppage preserved Crawford’s pole position, with Hauger once again denied by an incident. He would have to settle for second; Vesti, Maloney and Doohan completed the top five.
Oliver Bearman qualified sixth ahead of Correa, Martins, Isack Hadjar and Theo Pourchaire to round out the top ten, meaning the championship leader will benefit from the reverse grid pole ruling for Saturday’s Sprint Race.