Jake Hughes was a race winner here in Spielberg last year, but the Red Bull Ring hasn’t been as kind to him in 2020, with the HWA RACELAB driver scoring just 0.5 points from the three races that have been held in Austria so far this season.
Hughes struggled with reliability issues in Qualifying yesterday, as he did for much of Round 1. But, he clearly had the race pace to compete and rose to 10th from 16th in the eleven laps that were completed of Race 1, before the session was stopped early due to wet conditions.
With less than 75% of the race completed, only half points were awarded to the field, but this still allowed Hughes to at least get a number on the board.
“I am happy considering what happened in Qualy yesterday with the reliability issues,” he explained. “They were pretty challenging conditions out there, but I had a good start and some strong early laps.
“I gained some places early on and we were really strong in the opening laps, especially in the middle part, at turns 6 and 7.
“I was moving up what felt like a car a lap in that early phase and I felt really strong in the car and I was really confident with the grip that I had, in comparison to everyone else.”
The drivers were greeted by wet conditions when they arrived at the track in the morning, but the rain worsened as the race wore on and overtaking suddenly became a lot more difficult, due to a lack of grip, and visibility.
The race was red flagged on lap 13, after three safety cars, as race control deemed the conditions too wet too continue.
He continued: “The heavens opened, and I started struggling a lot with aquaplaning, as I am sure everyone did. Our pace stabilized compared to those around us and we never really had a chance after that with the VSC and the safety car.
“I think we were all struggling for tyre temperature and obviously the water level was quite intense. Turn 2 was quite interesting to say the least.”
P10 hands the Briton reverse grid pole for the second race tomorrow, and for Hughes, the “aim is obvious: win.” Although, he does admit that he would be happy just to get some solid points on the board for the team, after a frustrating start to 2020.
“We have had a challenging start to the season and a few reliability issues,” he continued. “Last week really cost us a lot, so we are already a bit behind in the championship. To be where we are now on reverse grid pole, we can start from here hopefully.
“The aim is to win the race, but the main aim is just to get some good points and I think in the dry we are strong anyway, maybe not pole strong, but strong enough to be fighting for it. “