Jake Hughes says Formula E grid ‘arguably the best in the world’ ahead of Hyderabad E-Prix


Jake Hughes is relishing the challenge of competing against “the best grid in the world” after the Brit’s impressive performances in his debut season of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

Heading into this weekend’s Greenko Hyderabad E-Prix, rookie Hughes sits fifth in the drivers’ standings after impressing in the opening three rounds of the season, especially in his qualifying performances.

Hughes, who signed with NEOM McLaren for their first Formula E season, claimed a shock pole position in round three and has secured points in all three races so far.

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While he might be disappointed to not have turned that pole position into a podium, he has outperformed most expectations having been given an opportunity by McLaren after a long career in various Formula 1 support series.

“I’m really, really enjoying it,” said Hughes. “Honestly, when you’re going well, you feel competitive in the car, and you’re getting results, it’s obviously always nice for the racing driver. But I think jumping in for me as a rookie into a championship at such a high level as Formula E it makes it double, if not triple as enjoyable.

“It’s extremely challenging and there’s a lot that – considering I was a reserve the last two, three years – I’m only just discovering now, even though I’ve tried to be a sponge and listen as much as possible and learn as much as possible last few years.

“But, once you’re in your own race car and left to your own devices in the race, and it’s you racing against these guys, there’s a lot to take in.

“The level of drivers here and teams as well, is up there with the highest in the world. I think there’s an argument to be had for the depth of the whole grid is arguably the best in the world. So the challenge of coming in and beating these guys, is the one that excited me the most.”

As a new driver, in a new team, there was uncertainty around how Hughes would make the step up from reserve to starting on the grid. However, any doubts about Hughes in the NEOM McLaren seat dissipated after the rookie registered points in each of the three opening rounds, including with a pole position in Diriyah which sees him one point ahead of team-mate Rene Rast

The 28-year-old’s confidence has since skyrocketed and he admitted his results are even more satisfying when he still learning on the go.

“I think I’m already doing quite well with two top fives already,” added Hughes. “I don’t think a driver that doesn’t understand Formula E would be able to achieve that.

“But I’m a rookie, there is some small parts of the races I think I can do better. I also think there’s the fact that the championship is so competitive – I think you see a trend that it’s not easy to lead, it’s not easy to be at the front in Formula E.

“I’ve obviously just come from a weekend where I got my first poll, it’s one of the most exciting moments I’ve had in my whole career, if not the most, to be told on the radio five seconds after I crossed the line that I got pole position against this grid, against Mitch and then in the final – it was just a moment of euphoria.

“And that’s the thing we all strive for. The reason that feels so good is because you’re going up against such a competitive field.”

Alongside team-mate Rast, Hughes’ strong performances have propelled legendary motorsport brand McLaren to third in the team standings.

Under the directorship of team principal Ian James, the squad took over from the Mercedes-EQ team for Season 9 and it’s been a solid start for the Woking-based outfit.

Heading to round four of the Net Zero Carbon Championship, Hughes explained how much it would mean to the team if there were able to win the title in their debut season.

“It would be huge,” Hughes said. “To be a rookie brand and team in Formula E and to come in and be able to win races and maybe Championships in this first year would be amazing and something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“Whether that is achievable or not in reality – it’s only down to our hard work as a team, our relationship with Nissen as a powertrain supplier, and our results on track, but they are a result of our hard work. So that’s what we’re focusing on and the results hopefully should come from that.”

Jake Hughes | Neom McLaren Formula E Team | Mexico City 2023 | Formula E | ESP Player Feature

Image credit: Getty Images

But first, Hughes and his NEOM McLaren team must turn their focus to India, a prospect Hughes is relishing.

“I’ve never been to India before so I’m really excited,” Hughes said. “First of all, to learn the culture and experience that.

“I think the Indian culture is very fanatic about sport – obviously cricket is their national sport and how well they support that. I think when Formula One was in India, it was supported quite well.

“And I think it will be just great to take Formula E to a new place and hopefully bring the excitement to them and they can see how cool and exciting Formula E is.

“I think the track itself – I’ve driven it on the sim and it feels very good and fun to drive.”

– – –

Watch the inaugural Greenko Hyderabad E-Prix live on Eurosport and discovery+ this Saturday.

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