At the end of the 2018 GP3 season, Jake Hughes had finished in eighth place after a disappointing year and was strongly considering a move away from the road to F1. Fast-forward 12 months and he has just signed a fresh contract to begin his second campaign with HWA RACELAB, in Formula 3.
It was the intervention of HWA - who were embarking on their first season in junior formula - which caused him to change his mind. As a major player in the world of motorsport, the appeal of HWA to Hughes was obvious. The Germans have a famed history in racing series’ such as DTM and have strong links to Mercedes.
Despite their rich history, HWA were well aware that this doesn’t necessarily translate into instant success in other Championships though. With no knowledge of the machinery, or the Pirelli tyres, they wanted an experienced and proven winner to spearhead their maiden campaign.
That man was Hughes, and neither party has looked back since.
“I have really found myself at home at HWA, it really suits me as a person and the way that they work and the way that I like to work. Most importantly, the way that the car is,” The Briton lauded.
“From their point of view, they were a new team and I am an experienced driver in the Championship. I know the tyre and I knew the GP3 the car – although this was obviously a new car. From their point of view, I guess it made sense having me in the team and I think that they have enjoyed having me there.”
The Briton has won races and taken poles in every Championship that he has driven in and that trend continued in 2019. Despite a nervy first couple of rounds, where the team didn’t take the points that they arguably deserved, they have largely impressed in their first season.
Hughes was their highest finisher in the drivers’ standings, taking the team’s first victory in the Spielberg Sprint Race. There were also podiums in both of the races in Budapest and in the Monza Sprint Races.
Hughes certainly feels comfortable and confident in his machinery, and while seventh may only appear to be a minor improvement, for a new team in a new Championship, it more than matched their expectations.
“I think that you make the most out of F3 when the car suits you naturally from the first lap of the weekend and I think I definitely suit this car and I think we have shown that quite a few times this year.
“As I touched on, it was a new car so we had to be open minded. You can't just copy and paste what you know, you have to be able to adapt again and move the goalposts a little bit. I think from their point of view, it suits them to have me in the team and from my point of view, I really suit being in a professional company.”
As has been well documented, the Briton plays a part behind the scenes for the German outfit and his role stretches well beyond the track. His knowledge and expertise of the road to F1 has proved pivotal in their development, as has the addition of the engineer that the Briton brought with him when joining the team.
It’s a role that Hughes is revelling in, and he has enjoyed experiencing the wider picture of the HWA company.
“HWA are more than just a race team,” he continued. “It is such a massive company at this level. You go to the workshop in Affalterbach, Germany, and there are 3-400 people there and you go to lunch and there’s always a massive que.
“There are so many projects going on and you just get a sense of everybody being driven there, everybody is working towards something there and everybody is serious about racing. It is bigger than just, and I don't mean this in a bad way at all, but it’s bigger than just Formula 3. That helped me this season to realise where I am and how lucky I am to be racing for a team like HWA and I want to make the most of it.”