The Championship table may not bear the fruits of his labour, but Jake Hughes believes he has “never been driving better.” The HWA RACELAB driver’s season has been dogged by misfortunes and mechanical issues, but he finally grabbed his first full points of the season, with a P4 finish in Race 1 today at Silverstone.
Hughes, who started from eighth, may have had a podium too were it not for a late safety car. The Briton had carefully managed his rubber in anticipation of a late battle for third, but ended up finishing the race behind the SC.
Race pace hasn’t been an issue for the German outfit, but rather their difficultly to turn the car on in Qualifying – a problem they haven’t been alone in dealing with.
“It’s a mixture between two feelings: relief and a kick-starter to the season,” he said post-race. “We have had so many issues, whether that be reliability, or mine and Liam’s (Lawson) crash in Austria. Really, we should be on 40 or 50 points at least by now with the pace that we have. In that sense, it is a relief to get properly on to the board.
“It was a really strong race. The first few laps were good, and I quite quickly got past seventh, sixth and fifth and got up to P4.
“I felt really comfortable with the tyres, and I felt like I was just pacing myself to try and arrive in the battle for the podium with my tyres in good shape, and maybe even go for the win, but then the safety cars put that ambition to bed.
“All year we have had good race pace, that isn't our issue. It has been the Qualy pace which has been the issue. If we can make Qualifying better, then we should be up there all the time.”
What a difference a race can make. At the end of Round 3, HWA’s chances of fighting towards the front of the Driver, or Teams’ standings appeared slim, but with some solid points on the board, and with Hughes starting Race 2 tomorrow from sixth, hopes have been significantly boosted.
“We have a chance to get more points tomorrow, and possibly a podium” Hughes continued. “There are still five weekends after this one, so we will try to get towards the top five.
“Even for me, four years into this level, it is important for my career. I feel like I have never been driving better to be honest, and I think the team are very happy with what I have been doing.
“There has been some luck going against us, and issues with the car, which means we are now showing what we should do, in terms of championship position.
“By Mugello, we should be able to look at the championship and be up there. I think it would be a long stretch to fight for the Championship now, after three weekends without really scoring any points, but you never know, and I think I am performing at a high level.”