While it is true that he has been inside the Formula E paddock with the now retired Mercedes-Benz team, Jake Hughes is living his first experience as an official driver of the category, and in a squad that also debuts in the tournament.
The NEOM McLaren driver certainly impressed a lot of people after his debut in Mexico City, considering he took the reins of a brand new car.
Crossing the line at the first stop of the competition to finish fifth, Hughes looked physically and mentally exhausted, and even labeled it as the toughest race he has ever participated in.
Related content:Car Software and Mindset are Keys to Bird’s Success in Season 9
“I knew it was going to be like this,” Hughes explained. “The feeling is very different once you’re actually in the car compared to just watching it on TV.
“I’ve been in and around Formula E in the paddock for a number of years. So I’ve seen where we worked with Mercedes before, how Stoffel Vandoorne and Nyck de Vries, especially, were working during a weekend,” he noted.
Hughes noted that by becoming an official driver all the spotlights are on him with many more media engagements, lots of meetings and a short turnaround time between sessions.
On Rene Rast, a grid partner in the team, he revealed that “it’s very critical in a new set of regulations. For me, as a rookie, it’s important that I learn as much as I can from Rene. He is a very experienced racing driver in general and has won many races and championships everywhere. So it would be foolish not to learn as much as possible.”
He considers the premiere at Mexico City’s Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez to be a good start, in what he predicts will be a season with complex street circuits that leave little margin for error for the participating drivers.
The addition of McLaren represents a big step for Formula E within its goal of becoming a benchmark competition with a sustainable purpose, which is already endorsed by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile.