McLaren has signed Jake Hughes to partner Rene Rast for the team’s maiden Formula E campaign next season, completing the 2023 grid.
The Race revealed in September that Hughes was set to join the new-look team which is essentially a re-branded Mercedes EQ squad following Daimler’s decision to withdraw Mercedes from the all-electric world championship in August 2021.
Hughes, who has recently driven the Nissan Gen3 test and development car along with Rast, confirmed in August that he wouldn’t be returning to the Van Amersfoort F2 team for the rest of the season due to what he described as his “growing commitments and focus on Formula E.”
Hughes finished fifth in his final F2 race at Red Bull Ring but was then replaced after testing positive for Covid-19 just prior to the Paul Ricard round.
The 28-year-old continued to support the Mercedes EQ team in the final rounds of the 2022 Formula E championship as its reserve driver before being chosen by the team in September for promotion to race driver alongside Rast.
“First and foremost, I’m very proud and feel very privileged to become part of the McLaren Racing family, being given the chance to represent such a prestigious brand,” said Hughes.
“Growing up, McLaren was one of the teams that inspired me to start racing. To now go full circle, representing the team myself in Formula E feels incredible.
“I’ve obviously been with the Formula E team in a different guise before and we have already achieved great results. It’s good to have that relationship and I know what’s expected of me.”
The NEOM McLaren Formula E team has arrived. 👊 #NMFE
— NEOM McLaren FE (@McLarenFE) November 29, 2022
The choice of Hughes came after lengthy deliberations by McLaren’s Zak Brown and team principal, Ian James, as to who would partner Rast, who was signed in the early summer.
The initial likelihood of Felix Rosenqvist returning to Formula E for 2023 at one stage looked plausible but when he was granted an additional season with Arrow McLaren SP’s IndyCar team for 2023, McLaren’s attentions turned to Hughes.
That was because it felt Hughes offered continuity with the teams and in the words of Ian James, Hughes was chosen because of his “performance in his role as both reserve and more appropriately development driver for the team.”
“We’re very excited that Jake is coming on board – it probably goes without saying – he’s really pumped about the opportunity,” James told The Race.
“I think that for him personally it’s really something that he’s been working towards for a number of years now and I’m very pleased that we’re able to provide him with that opportunity.
“We took a very careful look at what it is that we need to achieve going into Gen3. We did the same thing as we came into Gen2 as Mercedes in terms of the driver qualities.
“You need someone that’s going to be bloody quick – and Jake very much ticks that box. Certainly, his performance in the simulator over the last year or so has been phenomenal.”
Additionally, James described how the new-look team also needed to “look at the characteristics that are going to help develop the team, and I think each and every team is hitting the reset button as we go.
“Going into Gen3, the stability and experience that Jake brings with him is going to be a real asset,” added James.
“He knows and understands our tools and processes and my expectation is, because of that, he will very much be able to hit the ground running in Gen3, especially considering all of the changes that we’re having to manage.”
Hughes, who is managed by the same management stable – the Mark Blundell fronted MB Partners concern – as McLaren team manager, Gary Paffett, becomes the final driver to be confirmed on the 2023 Formula E grid.
Full 2023 Formula E entry list
Maserati: Edoardo Mortara/Maximillian Guenther
DS Penske: Stoffel Vandoorne/Jean-Eric Vergne
Jaguar: Mitch Evans/Sam Bird
Envision: Nick Cassidy/Sebastien Buemi
Porsche: Antonio Felix da Costa/Pascal Wehrlein
Andretti: Jake Dennis/Andre Lotterer
Nissan: Sacha Fenestraz/Norman Nato
Mahindra: Lucas di Grassi/Oliver Rowland
NIO 333: Dan Ticktum/Sergio Sette Camara
McLaren: Rene Rast/Jake Hughes
Abt: Robin Frijns/Nico Mueller