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Formula E

Prioritising 'race performance' during off-season 'paying off' – Hughes

Jake Hughes is pleased to see that Neom McLaren's hard work on their race pace during the off-season is already resulting in strong performances, indicating that their winter break strategy was correct.

Hughes - Diriyah - 2024
Article
To news overview © Andrew Ferraro / Formula E

McLaren has made an excellent start to the 10th season of Formula E, even if the championship table does not suggest it. Whilst the Woking-based side sit sixth in the Constructors' Championship, their pace has been amongst the very best.

Focusing on Hughes, the British driver has started all three races this year in the top 10. Two of his good starting positions came as a result of progressing to the duels, with him continuing to be one of the quickest drivers over one-lap.

Last year, Hughes often qualified well in his rookie season but then fell away during the races. So far this year, that isn't happening. Genuine progress has been made by McLaren and their powertrain supplier Nissan, to unlock better race performance.

At the recent double-header in Diriyah, McLaren actually had the best energy management on the grid. This is a huge step forwards compared to Season 9, where the British team were often one of the worst when it came to preserving energy.

McLaren's progress was really on show on the outskirts of the Saudi Arabian capital, as Sam Bird finished fourth in the opening race, before Hughes finished fourth in the second E-Prix in Diriyah.

This was the former Mercedes-EQ reserve driver's best-ever finish in Formula E, although he was just one-second behind third and a maiden rostrum.

McLaren 'moving in the right direction'

"Yeah, I mean, it's one of them, isn't it?" Hughes told RacingNews365 after the second race in Diriyah. "You're so close to the podium, but honestly, I'm semi over the moon in some ways, you know, I'm so proud of everyone in the team.

"I think we've really made a step in our race performance since Season 9. That's obviously where most of our energy went in terms of, you know, work over the off-season and that seems to be paying off.

"I think on a different day we could have had both cars in the points today. Obviously, Sam was doing a mega race as well. And yesterday I was in the points until the last corner, so everything's moving in the right direction."

McLaren and Nissan's much improved race pace compared to last year has been noticed in the paddock.

Given that both teams have impressive one-lap pace, many wondered if their strong showing in Diriyah was down to the surprisingly short races.

"No it's not the short race distance, it's the track rubbering in," revealed Hughes. "It's, I don't think, an unknown, that our weak point together with Nissan is exits, sort of putting the power down.

"Of course, when the track is so low grip it's a bit exaggerated. I think, you know, today we were kind of at the grip level nearly that we had last year and I think you saw what we were able to do last year happened again today."

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