Jake Hughes endured a difficult weekend during FIA Formula Three’s visit to Spa-Francorchamps with the Brit’s efforts being curtailed by poor luck and misfortune.
Hopes were high of another strong showing entering the weekend following Jake’s triumph at the previous round in Barcelona. After posting the 16th fastest time in practice, Jake was confident of moving further up the grid in qualifying but heavy traffic on his first run severely hampered his lap. His second run was then disrupted by rainfall, meaning track conditions had now changed and no one could better their early times - leaving the 26-year-old to line up from P12 for Saturday’s race.
His luck would show no signs of improving on Saturday morning as an issue with the starter on his HWA RACELAB car meant he was unable to take the formation lap and was forced to start the race from the pit-lane. From there, Jake quickly began to make up places and was aided by a safety car to help bunch the field up. His pace was evident as he had progressed to P21 by lap six and had also set the fastest lap of the race. It wasn’t to be however, as a collision with another driver left Jake with damage to the front-end of his car and left him no choice but to pull into the pits to retire.
Starting Sunday’s race from P29, Jake and the team had nothing to lose and opted to run a setup with vastly-reduced downforce. The decision paid off immediately as Jake scythed his way to P22 by the end of the first lap and produced an overtaking exhibition throughout the rest of the race to gain five further places to P17 and an overall gain of 12 places from his starting position. The weekend means Jake now sits eighth in the championship standings with 63.5 points.
Spurred on by the promising pace displayed throughout the weekend, Jake now heads to the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza for the Italian Grand Prix this coming weekend and hopes to put the misfortunes of last weekend behind him.
“We finished empty-handed here so it was a disappointing weekend overall. Things didn't go according to plan from the start and we did not reach the level of performance that we had with the car in Silverstone and Barcelona. I had a defective starter on the grid on Saturday, although we really hadn’t had any problems with that before but the fastest lap proves that I was on the pace during the race. Starting from the P29 on Sunday didn’t promise much so we took an increased risk with the downforce.
"That meant it was more sensitive through the high-speed corners but it paid off as we improved by 12 places to finish 17th, this allowed me to finish off the weekend on a positive note. Now we have to get back to where we were with the car setup on the previous two race weekends and that’s the goal for Monza.”
Photo credit: Dutch Photo Agency