Claiming points in the Feature Race for the fourth time in his 2022 Formula 2 campaign, Jake Hughes says he’s glad to have made the most out of his alternative strategy following a perplexing home race weekend.
Moving their set-up in the wrong direction ahead of Qualifying put the Van Amersfoort Racing driver on the backfoot, but Hughes believes he had the potential for more than a 10th-placed finished had circumstances gone his way.
“The weekend was sensible in general. I think Practice was difficult to read. We probably overreacted to what was happening in Practice in terms of set-up, which meant we went into Qualifying with a sub-optimal car to say the least and we struggled for that reason.”
Those challenges persisted as adverse wet weather conditions impacted the Sprint Race, where he finished outside the points, in 11th. As the rain eased off just before lights out, several drivers expected a crossover point to slicks and Hughes said he was baffled by the tale of two halves race.
“For the Sprint Race and the way that race unfolded with the wet tyres was a weird one from my point of view. I was probably the slowest car on track for the first five laps and then all of a sudden, I think I was third fastest for the last five laps behind Ayumu Iwasa and Jack Doohan.
“It was a bit of a strange race! I went back to like P16/P17 and then went all the way up to being P11 again.”
Opting to gamble on the alternate strategy on Sunday, Hughes left it very late to swap out his well-worn hard tyres for fresh softs at the end of Lap 24. While the Brit says his team nailed the switch from their side, he was disappointed not to benefit from the overcut to close the gap to the other alternate runners ahead.
“It was a pretty clean race to be honest. The strategy didn’t really fall our way properly but we executed it quite well in terms of pit stops and when to box. The pace was generally alright at the start of stints, but we had quite a lot of degradation in the second phase of our stint on the hard tyres which meant we lost too much time to the guys like Jack (Doohan), Jüri (Vips) and Jehan (Daruvala).
“So that sort of dropped us off the back of them on the same strategy as us when they finished around P6–P9 and we finished P10, which was good to get some points but we were a bit further behind them because of that second half on the hards.”
With back-to-back Feature Race points finishes to his name, Hughes is pleased with VAR’s progress, but he admits there’s still some pace they're lacking ahead of the next round in Spielberg.
“I’m happy to be in the points. I’ve been quite consistent lately around a sort of the backend of the top 10 finishing positions in Baku and Silverstone - building some consistency. We just need to get some extra pace from somewhere so that’s our target for the Red Bull Ring."