Jake Hughes closed out the FIA Formula 3 season in style with his fourth podium finish of the campaign at Mugello, completing a highly successful second-half of the championship.
Immediately on the pace, Jake set the fastest time during practice on Friday morning and had quickly found a rhythm around the 5.245-kilometre Mugello circuit. With qualifying underway, Jake took charge of the first half of the session by topping the timesheets once again. As the final runs began, Jake was pipped to pole by just 0.125s and was classified as the third-fastest runner before being promoted to second on the grid following a penalty for Logan Sargeant.
Lining up from the front row, Jake was confident of a strong result in the first race of the weekend. A controlled getaway from the start line meant Jake held position heading into turn one and began to follow first-placed Zendeli - keeping the German firmly in his sights.
Having kept within DRS range of Zendeli, Jake quickly set about challenging for the lead and made a move around the outside heading into turn one, using the long straight to slipstream alongside his rival. Entering the corner, the pair made slight contact and Zendeli held position.
Gearing up for a second assault, Jake attempted the move again two laps later and moved clear of Zendeli. Positions swapped again four laps later before Jake finally broke clear and bridged a one-second gap.
Jake’s next challenge came from Vesti with the pair dicing for the lead for the remainder of the race. At the chequered flag, Jake crossed the line just 0.3s behind the Dane to take second place.
For Sunday’s reverse-grid race, Jake lined up ninth on the grid and had climbed to sixth after the opening sequence of corners. Following a brief safety car appearance, Jake was hit from behind and subsequently fell back to eighth. Settling into a groove, the Brit was quick to make up the lost ground and moved his way into seventh on lap 14. Jake then reeled in Fernandez and passed the Venezuelan for sixth on the final tour.
The double points-scoring weekend rounds off a highly successful second-half of the season for Jake, in which he firmly established himself as one of the leading competitors in the series. After poor luck and misfortune meant Jake scored only 0.5 points from the first three rounds, he then went on to score 111 points across the remaining six rounds to end the season among the most consistent drivers - with two victories and two second-place podium finishes on the scorecard.
“A podium and a sixth place is a great way to end the season here at Mugello. The win looked possible and missing out by just three-tenths shows it could’ve gone either way but I’m still happy with our performance. We improved rapidly from Budapest and showed exactly what we’re capable of with the wins and regular points. As a team, we worked really hard to improve all through the season so it’s nice to be able to end the year on a high.”
Photo credit: Dutch Photo Agency