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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

First FE podium “not too far” for Hughes as McLaren targets race tempo positive aspects

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Former System 2 racer Hughes moved to System E this yr with McLaren, having beforehand acted as a reserve driver for the British-based staff in 2021-22 when it was owned and operated by Mercedes.

He made a direct impression within the championship by qualifying third on his debut in Mexico Metropolis and ending fifth within the race, together with his inventory rising additional when he took pole in solely his third try in Diriyah.

Hughes added a second pole place to his tally at Monaco final month and his constant run of prime 10 finishes in races has positioned him a powerful ninth within the championship heading to Jakarta, one place and 5 factors forward of team-mate Rene Rast.

With McLaren engaged on software program updates with powertrain provider Nissan to handle the staff’s relative lack of efficiency in race trim in comparison with one-lap tempo, Hughes mentioned he’s now assured he’ll be capable of convert his sturdy qualifying performances into top-notch race outcomes quickly.

Requested how far he’s from a primary podium in System E, Hughes advised Autosport: “Not too far. I believe.

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“I do not suppose it’s untoward to say that we glance to be stronger in qualifying than we’re within the race. We expect we all know why or we do know why.  

“Then it is a query of whether or not we will repair that and we hope that it arrives quickly by way of upgrades from the software program standpoint. They are going to be arriving and till then it is about maximising what we predict we now have, and executing very nicely, which is what we now have been doing to this point. 

Jake Hughes, McLaren

Photograph by: Andreas Beil

“I believe the minimal [goal] is to remain within the prime 10 within the drivers’ championship. For positive that shall be a problem. However that is my minimal objective. 

“For the groups’ championship, I want to see if we get another place, end within the prime 5 and to get on the rostrum.”

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Hughes identified powertrain effectivity and traction as two areas which have held again McLaren this season, with Rast additionally struggling for large outcomes and scoring a podium solely as soon as within the first 9 races of the season.

“We’ve got a powerful powertrain however there are areas we will enhance from the effectivity standpoint,” he defined. “From us as a staff, it is how we arrange the automobile and mechanical stability standpoint, we at all times really feel like there are areas to enhance, and we by no means get it good.

“Traction is a little bit of a weak level for us. In qualifying we will overcome it however within the race but it surely limits us as a result of the best way the racing works in System E, the truth that you must elevate midway down the straight…”

McLaren staff principal Ian James downplayed the possibilities of a significant turnaround in tempo on this weekend’s Jakarta E-Prix however careworn that the staff and the Nissan are placing in a number of effort in to be simply as sturdy as in race trim as over a single lap.

“We’ve got struggled with race tempo,” admitted James. “I believe there may be clearly extra potential that may be unlocked there and we’re working very carefully with Nissan as nicely so we will go ahead. 

“We’re engaged on fine-tuning issues in the intervening time. We’re capable of proceed to develop the software program perspective as nicely. 

“I am not anticipating explicit important steps ahead on this race. However relaxation assured the entire staff is working exhausting in that background to translate that qualifying efficiency into race efficiency.”

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