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F2: Crawford goes early to secure maiden pole in stop-start Zandvoort drama

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ZANDVOORT, NETHERLANDS - AUGUST 25: Pole position qualifier Jak Crawford of United States and

Red Bull junior Jak Crawford proved timing is everything in a chaotic qualifying in Zandvoort. Claiming provisional pole on his second attempt, three Red Flag appearances denied almost everyone a chance to improve, allowing the Hitech Pulse-Eight driver to hold on to his first Formula 2 pole position.

Dennis Hauger seemed to have the American’s time beat, but the second Red Flag metres from the line denied his effort and he had to settle for second. Mercedes junior Frederik Vesti set about clawing back Theo Pourchaire’s lead in the Drivers’ Championship in third, as the ART Grand Prix driver couldn’t improve beyond 10th.

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With limited space around the 4.2km circuit, drivers immediately started scrapping over track position. Alpine junior Victor Martins and Jack Doohan narrowly avoided contact and Turn 14 and had to bail out of their first attempts.

Crawford took charge at the 20-minute mark with a 1m 21.210s, 0.034s ahead of Hauger. However, after switching to his second set of softs, he was forced to box for a new front wing following contact with Clement Novalak in the pit lane.

Jehan Daruvala spun off at Turn 3 to bring out the first Red Flag with seven minutes remaining. Once running resumed, Hauger bettered Crawford’s lap by 0.040s, but it wouldn’t register as a second Red Flag was flown metres from the line after Juan Manuel Correa spun off into the gravel trap at Turn 10.

With only four minutes to go, Hauger continued going quicker but was denied a final attempt as Novalak brought out a third and final session-ending Red Flag, hitting the barriers out of Turn 3.

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Zane Maloney was one of the few drivers to improve before the second Red Flag, going from P20 to qualify fourth. Doohan secured fifth ahead of Oliver Bearman. Despite crashing out, Correa’s earlier efforts were enough for seventh ahead of Martins, Hadjar and Pourchaire.

Championship leader Pourchaire will line up on reverse grid pole for Saturday’s Sprint Race, which gets underway at 13:15 local time.

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