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Hughes on quest for Formula E seat: I would be best prepared rookie

by Bethonie Waring

Photo: Mercedes EQ

Mercedes simulator driver Jake Hughes believes he would be the most prepared rookie ever as he aims for a Formula E seat next season.

Hughes is currently in his rookie Formula 2 season with the debuting Van Amersfoort Racing team and is 17th in the standings after five rounds. Alongside that he has been reserve and development driver roles for the Mercedes EQ FE team and its powertrain customer Venturi, as well as a simulator role for the Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 squad.

He believes his experience with those teams, as well as test experience with NIO 333, would make him the most prepared rookie ever to have raced in the electric single-seater series if he were to get a seat, but thinks his lack of race experience will put him at a disadvantage in the driver market.

“I feel like there’s not a better prepared rookie there’s ever been in FE than me,” he said.

“I’ve been a reserve driver now for two years with a championship-winning team. I’ve worked simulator roles for other FE teams as well, so I’m pushing everywhere to be honest, not least with what is the current Mercedes team and will continue to be a team next year in Gen3 season nine.”

Mercedes won both FE world championship titles last season and is currently leading the way again, but will leave FE at the end of the 2021-22 season, with McLaren taking over the squad.

“But it’s like anything to be honest,” Hughes continued. “When you’re the rookie you don’t have the race mileage. It’s always the last box to tick. You need someone to give you the chance to give you that. Speaking to some teams so far, that is their worry. They don’t want to take a rookie.

“That’s the difficulty I have to overcome. Nevertheless, I think I have a lot of offer and I always put my point across to teams in that way. I’m kind of hopeful that I might be able to get on the grid, but let’s wait and see.”

Hughes also stated that he doesn’t expect his Mercedes connections to earn him a F1 free practice outing this year.

“Obviously, I’ll ask the question but Frederick [Vesti] is in the paddock as well. He’s an actual junior at Mercedes,” he said.

“There’s Nyck [de Vries], who drives with the FE team and is also a rookie. So that requirement for a rookie this year might not fall my way. I’m not really expecting it either.”

Reigning FE champion Nyck de Vries made his F1 free practice debut with Williams at the Spanish Grand Prix, and is currently without a drive in single-seater racing for 2023 as a result of Mercedes’ FE departure.