Jake Hughes on his incredible road to Formula E success and which location he’s most excited to race at next season

With natural flare and an unrelenting will to win, Jake Hughes has cemented his place as a Formula E icon and NEOM McLaren star.

Having already crafted an excellent legacy, you could be forgiven for thinking the racer was in the driver’s seat before he’d left primary school. After all, this is the man who broke the Guinness World Record for indoor speed by hitting a whopping 218.71km/h / 135.9mph inside a modified version of the Formula E Gen3 race car, the GENBETA. But remarkably, the athlete’s journey didn’t start until he was a teenager.

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While this would’ve been too late for most individuals to make a real splash in the sport, in a testament to his remarkable powers of resilience and passion for his craft, he outworked his rivals, taking the karting world by storm en route to moving into car racing.

In an exclusive interview with Sporf, he explained: “I was really late. I was 16 when I had my first go-kart race. Most people start when they’re seven or eight years old. I think I would have been the same if I’d come from a family that did motorsport. My mum pushed me into every sport. I tried cricket, golf, boxing, and football. However, it wasn’t until I accidentally fell into a go-kart when I was 15 that I realised this was what I wanted to do. That was in 2010, and I had numerous race wins in British Championship level go-karting. But I was already 19 after three years of kart, so I realised I had to quickly move up into car racing and accelerate my learning.”

Jake Hughes has become a strong competitor in Formula E

Blessed with a love of competition, Hughes gravitated towards the excitement generated by Formula E, showcasing his fighting spirit in luxurious locations around the globe.

And after a strong rookie season, he’s ready for more in his second campaign, which commences in January. And with the format giving an opportunity for all the racers to pick up a championship, Hughes will undeniably be on the hunt to fight for the number one spot.

Having stood with his head held high at the top of the podium in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, he’s developed a taste for what it feels like to reach the pinnacle of the sport and can’t wait for more.

He beamed: “The best feeling I’ve had would be getting my first pole position in Formula E last year in Diriyah. It was the third race of the season, the second race of the weekend. I’d started the season qualifying third in the first race, then qualified second in the second race. So we were joking a little bit going into the third race that the only natural progression is to go on pole now. Then it actually came off.

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“Everyone knows how difficult formula E is. So, to be able to get into pole position in my third race was really special. I’d had so much respect for this championship and the level of drivers in it. But at the same time, I had so much belief in myself that I was good enough to be at this level. So it was just nice to confirm so early that I really deserve to be here.”

Which Formula E race is Jake Hughes most excited for?

With the Formula E calendar littered with fantastic destinations like São Paulo, Brazil and Berlin, Germany, the drivers have a sensational opportunity to exhibit their talents to fans across the globe. But there’s one race in particular that stands out from the pack.

Hughes revealed: “Everyone is very excited to go to Tokyo, and I’m no different. I’ve always wanted to go to Japan in general, even if it was just as a holiday. I know so many people in motorsport who have been there and raced there and worked there, and everyone always says the same thing, which is just how brilliant it is out there, how good the culture is, and how good the motorsport fan base is.

“So, to be getting to go there this year in my own McLaren race car and drive around the streets of Tokyo is amazing. The beauty of Formula E is that we get to go to these places and these cities and showcase what we have as a sport. I get to be one of those 22 lucky guys. We’re going to Shanghai too. I think it’s great that we’re going back to China. It’s very important for Formula E.”

Racing for NEOM McLaren is a dream come true for Jake Hughes

As a boy, Hughes kicked a football around, fantasising about playing up front for his beloved Aston Villa. But everything changed the moment he jumped in a go-kart for the first time. He fell in love with every aspect of racing, from the thrills of passing his competitors to the adrenaline of crossing the finish line. And now, 13 years on from first discovering his passion, he’s signed to NEOM McLaren and is ready to take the world by storm.

The 29-year-old asserted: “To be representing Neom McLaren is a childhood dream. While I started racing late. I was watching Formula One before that. In 2007, Lewis Hamilton was in the McLaren, winning races and championships and from then on, I became a massive fan of the company, the brand and the team. So, all these years later, for it to come full circle and for me to be racing for them in Formula E in a world championship, in a Papaya car in all these famous cities around the world, this is what dreams are made of

“I count myself extremely lucky that I’m in this privileged position. My career could have gone wrong at so many levels through the junior categories, and to feel like I’ve come out the other side of that, into this position is something I’ll cherish, and make sure I do my absolute best to to keep going as long as I can.” 

Featured Image Credit: Jake Hughes / NEOM McLaren