Jake Hughes claimed his second win of the FIA Formula 3 season with a resounding victory at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
Aiming to bounce back from a disappointing weekend in Belgium, Jake arrived in Italy confident of a strong showing with the HWA RACELAB team.
A chaotic qualifying session on Friday afternoon saw Jake qualify a provisional eighth on the grid. Opting to run ahead of the majority of the field for his final fast lap attempt, the Brit was heavily impeded by a group of cars backing up at the Ascari chicane and subsequently lost the opportunity to improve his time despite setting the fastest first sector. Post-session penalties for several drivers then promoted Jake to a much more representative third place starting spot for Saturday’s race.
Jake initially lost a place off the start line in the first race and dropped to fourth but quickly recovered to regain the position on the third lap. He then set about challenging the cars ahead of him and set one of the fastest laps of the race in the process before making an excellent move on Liam Lawson through the Ascari chicane to climb to second place. From there, Jake continued to put race leader Pourchaire under pressure with the race looking set to become a two-car battle for win.
However, a safety car deployment halted the action and, upon the restart, Jake struggled with the front left tyre and lost out to a fast-charging Vesti and slotted into third. At the chequered flag, Jake secured fifth place and ten points in the championship.
The second race of the weekend provided more drama and unpredictability. Starting from sixth place, Jake made an excellent getaway to move up to fourth after the first chicane and then sealed third place with a stunning move around the outside of Belov through the second chicane.
Following Zendeli and team-mate Fittipaldi, Jake was locked in a tight battle with Lawson - losing third to the Australian on lap five. Before long, the top six had concertinaed together with Jake holding station in fourth before drama for Fittipaldi and Zendeli ahead promoted Jake to second place.
From there, Jake seized the opportunity to pass Lawson along the main straight and assume the lead of the race. The virtual safety car was then deployed following a multi-car collision, after which Jake showed supreme pace and quickly bridged a gap to Lawson behind. As he crossed the line, the Brit finished the race almost two seconds ahead to record his second victory of the season.
The weekend’s results mean Jake is one of only six drivers to score multiple wins this season and is seventh in the championship standings with 88.5 points as the series heads to Mugello for the final round of the season next weekend, September 11-13.
"I am delighted with the win. The car felt excellent from lap one. After taking the lead, it was easy to get out of the DRS zone of the cars behind me. I was never under pressure and was able to extend my lead. We really deserved this success. The tyres were in perfect condition. We had a brief dip in form in Spa, but we have been in a steep upwards trend since Silverstone. I'd like to thank the whole team. I feel sorry for Enzo. I think he would have joined me on the podium."
Photo credit: Dutch Photo Agency