Known as a bit of a super-sub in Formula 2, Jake Hughes’ full-time return this season means it’s about time we got to know the Van Amersfoort Racing driver a little better.
We caught up with the 28-year-old British ace to find out more about his persona away from the race circuit, his love for his local football team and why he’s got no time to put his feet up right now.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
“I’m Birmingham born and bred basically! I live there - up the eastern side of Birmingham for anyone that's interested! My whole family more or less on both sides is from Birmingham, so I’ve lived where I live now my whole life. Been in the area for about 25 years now, something like that.
“Wherever you’re brought up you sort of consider it home. To be quite honest, I think if anyone who’s not from the UK asked me what Birmingham is like, I wouldn’t try to tell them ‘oh yeah, you need to visit it’. It’s a metropolitan city, it’s obviously quite industrial and very English in some ways. It’s not the prettiest city, but it’s weird because I love it at the same time.
“It’s my home. It’s where my friends live, I know everything around the place. I’m sure at some point in my life I’ll live somewhere else, but it’s weird to think of doing that right now.”
OUTSIDE OF MOTORSPORT, WHICH SPORTSPERSON DO YOU ADMIRE?
“It’s weird because I never really had a sporting role model growing up and the one that got me into motorsport was Lewis Hamilton obviously. I love football but I don’t really have many role models there.
“The other sport I follow a lot is cycling. I've always sort of centred around someone like Bradley Wiggins or Chris Froome because at the time when I started watching cycling, they were winning the Tour de France. I'd probably say someone like them or Mo Farah, from the mid-2010s era when everyone was winning gold medals.”
HOW DO YOU RELAX AWAY FROM THE TRACK?
“Unfortunately, at the moment I don’t have any time to relax. With F2 we have 14 races and two tests as well and I’m a reserve driver for Mercedes EQ in Formula E, I drive the simulator all the time with them.
“Before this and especially with the Formula E commitments, I used to spend most of my time on my bike. I love cycling, it’s a chance to clear your head if you need to. You just feel relaxed and getting healthy at the same time, feeling better in yourself. I would always do that or watch football - Aston Villa’s the only choice - and see my girlfriend.”
WHO ARE YOU FRIENDS WITH ON THE F2 GRID?
“I have some good friends. I'm a bit of a standout in some ways because I started so late, I've come into so late and stayed around F2 and F3 for a while now. A lot of the boys here are like four to five years younger than me.
“Someone I speak to quite a bit is Marcus (Armstrong), I’d class him as a good friend. You know what it’s like - when you’re racing, we’re not friends on track, but off the track I have a good natter with him in the paddock."
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHEAT MEAL?
“It has to be a burger, a bacon cheeseburger. That or pizza, one of the two.”
WHAT MOMENT IN HISTORY WOULD YOU WANT TO GO BACK AND WITNESS?
“When England won the World Cup in 1966. Racing is more of a personal thing in some ways, it’s what your own career’s about that matters the most, but I think the fact that I’m not playing football for myself, I still love it and watch a lot of it. That was our standout moment as a country, so I would have loved to experience that.
“Getting to the final in the Euros last year was something special, so I can’t imagine what the country was like 60 years ago when that happened.”
IF YOU WEREN’T A DRIVER, WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
“I’ve always been centred around sport, so I’d probably find a way to get into sport either through racing, cycling or football. If I couldn’t have been a driver, a cyclist or a footballer, someone who actually competes in those sports, I would definitely like to work in them in some way – maybe as a driver coach, a strategist in cycling or racing. Or engineering, but I’m not sure I’ve got the brain functioning for that!”
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MOVIE OR TV SERIES?
“Movies either Harry Potter or Star Wars, I’m super excited at the moment for the new Kenobi show. TV series would probably be Peaky Blinders – I’m a Brummie.”
WHAT WAS THE LAST SONG YOU LISTENED TO?
“I didn’t listen to it on my phone, but the last song I remember listening to was on a video of Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
YOUR FAVOURITE RACING MEMORY?
“I won the BRDC Formula 4 title in my first year of car racing, so that was a pretty good one. Otherwise, one standout was my first year in GP3 (now Formula 3). I got pole at my first race, which was my first race in the F1 paddock. I’d only done three years of car racing at that point and on the grid there was: Charles Leclerc, Alex Albon, Nyck de Vries, Jake Dennis and Jack Aitken. That was a pretty cool moment.”
WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSION?
“I’m not sure I should say this, but I’ve got a teddy bear from when I was born and I still have it. It’s something I can’t get rid of, I’m never sweating about where it is or anything like that, but it’s something I know I’ll never get rid of. I’m a nice guy!”
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE QUOTE?
“Not sure I can get the quote word-for-word, but it’s something along the lines of ‘you won’t fail if you just try. Basically, it’s impossible to fail if you try something.”
WHERE WOULD YOU VISIT IF YOU COULD TRAVEL ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD?
“One place I’d like to visit that I haven’t yet is Australia, probably Sydney or Melbourne. Go there for about a month in January when it’s summer over there, that would be cool.”
YOUR MOST EMBARASSING MOMENT?
“I was skiing about seven or eight years ago and there was this ice toboggan track on the side of the mountain. There was a big group of us that went skiing and we all decided to go on it and have a race down it. It was only about two toboggans-wide at max.
“It was carnage! People were falling off the side of the track, disappearing over the other side of the lift looking like they’d fallen down the mountain. I shouldn’t say this is funny but it kind of was – a friend of mine took out some poor lady who was waiting for her son, completely crashed into the back of her and pushed her down the mountain effectively.
“It’s one of those ‘you had to be there’ things but it was really, really funny. I didn’t stop laughing for about an hour!”