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"It's incredible how fast it is" - Jak Crawford opens up after completing first F1 test

Aston Martin F1

Jak Crawford gives us the lowdown on his Aston Martin Aramco debut and maiden F1 test.

An American dream.

When Jak Crawford rolled out onto the asphalt at Austria's Red Bull Ring behind the wheel of the AMR22 earlier this month, it marked the achievement of a long-held ambition of the North Carolina born racer.

A maiden F1 test. A debut for Aston Martin Aramco. The next step in our Young Driver Development Programme for the 19-year-old. 5 June 2024 will live long in Jak's memory.

Having risen rapidly through the motorsport ranks, he can now count himself among the few to have driven one of the fastest racing machines in the world. 

Shortly after the landmark moment, we sat down with Jak to get his reaction... 

Jak, you've just driven an F1 car for the first time. What emotions are you feeling right now?  

"It was a very cool experience to drive a Formula One car for the first time. 

"I was a bit nervous going into it but as soon as I got out on track, that all went away. I enjoyed every single lap out there and after my first run, I had a big, big smile on my face.  

"It was a very positive day. Usually on a test day, you go through things that you maybe don't like, but there wasn't a single part that I didn't enjoy. It was just such a cool experience. 

"I got to drive one of the fastest cars in the world for Aston Martin – one of the most iconic brands in the world. It's quite an honour. Very few people get to do it and it ranks as one of the biggest milestones in my career."

Aston Martin F1

How did you prepare physically for driving an F1 car for the first time? 

"Over the past few months, I've been training my neck a bit more. Nothing crazy, just one extra time per week. I felt physically well prepared for it and for the most part my body held up well.  

"The back of my neck was a bit sore when I woke up on Thursday morning from the g-forces under braking, but other than that I felt good!"

You completed a lot of mileage in the simulator ahead of the test. How does it compare to the real thing? 

"It was really close in comparison. I've driven in the sim a lot this year, but I've not been able to compare it to a real F1 car until now. You never really know how it's going to compare so your expectations are always quite low going to the track, but now I know I can trust it because it's so lifelike. The sim is very accurate."

What's it actually like to drive an F1 car and how does it compare to what you've driven so far in your career? 

"The three biggest things to contend with were the braking, the torque and throttle application, and the downforce.

"The braking performance was incredible, hence the sore neck the next day, but you get used to stopping power and g-force pretty quickly.  

"Then you have to get a grip on how much power you have under your right foot when you put the throttle down. I definitely had some moments where I learned the hard way how powerful it was!

"The biggest difference is the downforce in the high-speed corners. You feel like you're at the limit of grip but there's always more there – you always feel you can find more.

Aston Martin F1

"It's incredible how fast an F1 car is through the corners, but once you've done the corner, you always think you could have been quicker. It's all part of the process though: building confidence over time and getting faster gradually.

"The more confident you get, the more you push, and the more the car grips, giving you even more confidence. It’s a snowball effect."

Tell us about finding that limit, and how you built up to pushing in the AMR22?

"You’re just trying to stay cool and settle in over the first few laps but eventually you've got to push the limits.

"You almost have to take a stab in the dark in terms of what you think the car is capable of when you're first in it, then you work on that step by step until you find the limit. That's how you build confidence, by doing that and not making any mistakes. In the end, I was comfortable in the car and I got used to the high-speed stuff quite quickly."

You had a full team of mechanics and engineers supporting you in the garage for tweaks and changes on the AMR22. How did you find learning the array of setup options available to you?    

"There were certainly a lot more people in the garage than I'm used to!  

"There's a lot more you can change on a Formula One car compared to what I've driven in the past.  

"We experimented with different settings, for example with the front wing angles, just to see the changes from run to run and to see how the car reacted. We tried a lot of different things just to get a baseline feeling and now when I get to the next test, I'll know what I want a bit more from the car. 

"There's also a lot more you can change in terms of settings on the steering wheel and over a lap compared to other racing cars I've driven. For example, there are about two or three things you can change from the steering wheel in an F2 car, which is throttle map, clutch - which you'll only change at the start - and the brake bias, which is the only thing you'll change during a lap. 

Aston Martin F1

"In F1, there are loads of buttons and throughout the lap you're using them to maximise each corner. It's amazing how intricate it is. 

"I really enjoyed getting into the technical side of things with engineers and mechanics and working so closely with them. I learnt a huge amount and was made to feel really welcome by everyone in the garage."

You’ve recently spoken about your rapid rise through the motorsport ranks and now, shortly after your 19th birthday, you've driven an F1 car. How do you reflect on that, and what was the reaction back home? 

"It was a bit of a full circle moment for me because my first ever test in F4 was at the Red Bull Ring too.

"I got so many messages afterwards asking me how it went. My family were quite nervous for me, probably a bit more than me even! I got hundreds of messages from people saying that they were proud of me for what I've achieved. 

"My dad was with me at the test, too. He's been with me every step of the way, he's the biggest figure in my racing career, so it was very cool to have him there and enjoy the moment with me. He was able to watch everything and have a radio on so he could listen to messages and be fully immersed in the day. 

"He's watched me from karting all the way up to this. It's something very few people will get to experience so it was a special moment."

How much will this test help your F2 campaign this season? 

"It gives me more confidence. I was able to perform well and the feedback from the team has been really positive and encouraging. 

"Even though an F1 car is very different to an F2 car, you still learn things behind the wheel that can be transferred to F2, or any other category, should a similar situation arise."

Aston Martin F1

You have had a taste of what's it like to drive an F1 car now. Are you even more hungry to race in F1? 

"For years now, it's been my ambition to race in F1 so I'm not sure I could be any hungrier for that opportunity, but this test has only made me believe even more that I've got what it takes to do so.

"This test has been a really important and exciting step in my journey and development. It's really hit home that I can do it. I just need to get to F1 now, that’s the next big milestone."

Driver Squad

Meet Jak

Get to know the latest addition to the Aston Martin Aramco driver squad and our Young Driver Development programme.

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