The second round of the 2020 FIA F3 season at the Red Bull Ring saw Jake Hughes in the fight for his first victory of the season in Sunday's race until he was the innocent victim of a collision that resulted in his retirement. The weekend also saw Hughes collect his first point of the year on Saturday and started race two in reverse grid pole position.
Hoping to bounce back from his misfortune a week ago, Jake's week did not get off to the ideal start as a technical issue halfway through qualifying meant he was forced to settle for 16th place on the grid for the first race of the weekend on Saturday.
Heavy rain set the scene for Saturday's race and Jake showed all of his class and experience to work his way through the field in the treacherous conditions. A crash on lap nine of the race brought out the first safety car of the race and Jake had already found himself in tenth place. The race resumed on lap twelve, but was stopped after another crash in increasingly heavy rain, and was ultimately suspended completely.
Jake was classified in tenth place, based on the standings on lap eleven. This result gave Jake his first top-ten finish of the season and reverse grid pole position for Sunday's race. However, as the race was suspended before the finish, the points awarded were halved, meaning Jake scored 0.5 points towards the Drivers' Championship.
Lining the grid from pole position in Sunday's sunshine, Jake did not get a great start and was powerless to prevent Theo Pourchaire from passing him on the inside. However, the Brit fought back immediately and eventually passed on lap four, but Liam Lawson took advantage of their scrap to slip through on the inside, leaving Jake in second place still.
The pair then competed in a thrilling battle for the lead with the pair trading positions several times until their duel was paused due to the safety car coming out. When the race resumed on lap 17, Jake attempted another overtake with three laps remaining, slipstreaming past Lawson and moving to the outside of the downhill turn six. Jake appeared to have succeeded with his overtake until his rival made a mistake. Carrying too much speed, Lawson skidded into Jake and damaged the HWA driver's suspension - forcing Jake to retire from the race.
Jake will be looking for some good fortunes this week as the FIA Formula 3 Championship continues at the Hungaroring, Hungary, for round three of the season. (17 - 19 July)
"It is very disappointing not to come away from the weekend with the points, or even the victory, that we deserved. It is a shame that the car would not start in qualifying. That meant we were unable to get involved in the fight for the top five and a good starting position for race one. However, we did manage to make up for the poor grid position and earn pole position for Sunday's race.
We were really strong Sunday. I had a very good feeling in the car and was confident that we would take victory. Then I was taken out of the race by another driver and could do nothing about it. We have been very unlucky on the first two race weekends here in Spielberg. We should really have 30 or 40 points to our name, but instead of that we have just 0.5. I am now looking forward to Budapest. I hope our impressive pace will be rewarded with good results there."
Photo credit: Dutch Photo Agency