Jake Hughes produced an impressive display on his FIA Formula Two debut by out-qualifying his teammate on his very first day in the car before finishing on the fringes of the points in Saturday's Feature Race. Aiming high in the Sprint Race, Jake was wiped out after just two corners.
Having never sat in a Formula Two car until Friday morning, Jake had only one hour of combined running through practice and qualifying to acquaint himself with the Dallara F2 2018 before Saturday’s Feature Race.
Continuing to build up speed and confidence throughout practice, Jake ended the session in 20th place just 0.112s behind his experienced BWT HWA RACELAB team-mate, Artem Markelov.
Jake found yet more performance heading into qualifying where a stunning first run saw him occupy ninth place before finishing an excellent 15th at the chequered flag - five places ahead of the sister car of Markelov.
Geared up for his first FIA F2 race start, Jake was looking forward to getting the Feature Race underway. Making a clean getaway, the Brit found himself having to take avoiding action of the ensuing carnage at turn two and was forced through the run-off area. However, still able to maintain his 15th place starting spot, Jake pressed on.
Opting to change tyres earlier in the race than those around him, Jake emerged from his first-ever FIA F2 pitstop on lap nine with strong pace and had closed up to Piquet ahead before completing his first F2 overtake to reclaim 15th from the Brazilian.
With a mature and disciplined performance in a category notorious for its tyre degradation, the earlier pitstop began to pay dividends as Jake climbed the order to 11th with nine laps remaining. From there he held firm - losing only one place to Ticktum on newer tyres - to cross the finish line in his first FIA F2 race in an excellent 12th place.
Buoyed by his strong showing in the Feature Race, Jake took aim at a points finish in Sunday morning’s Sprint Race but the Brit was wiped out by another car after just two corners.
Still in high spirits, Jake leaves the Sochi Autodrom with his head held high after an emphatic debut weekend in the series.
“After my first race weekend in Formula 2, I am very happy with my performance in a car that is unfamiliar to me. Friday was focused on getting myself in tune with the new machinery. As such, 15th place on the grid was a good result but I'm always wanting more. Despite this, the knowledge that we had the pace gave me confidence going into the race.
"On Saturday, I was unlucky at the start and lost four or five positions. However, with good pace and the right strategy, I was able to regain the places I lost. Without the incident in turn two, when I was involved in a crash, we could even have been looking at some points. Unfortunately, the race on Sunday was over too quickly. I would like to thank the team for giving me this opportunity. I really enjoyed being involved and was hopefully able to help the team take another step forwards."
Photo credit: Dutch Photo Agency