Jake Hughes spent the majority of the 2015 season attacking for the title in two championships, but ultimately was left disappointed as his Koiranen GP team-mate Jack Aitken took both the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and ALPS titles.
The British driver has had a busy off-season, testing for a number of teams across three different series as he evaluated the opportunities that were on the table for him in 2016.
“I haven’t had much off season up until now,” revealed Hughes to The Checkered Flag at the Autosport International Show. “I’ve been testing in various things, in GP3, Formula 3 and Formula 3.5 until I think it was the 15th of December, and then went skiing.
“I’ve literally just got back and straight into training. Saying that, I don’t like much of a break though, I hate sitting around, and I’m not good at sitting around.”
Hughes was in contention for both the Eurocup and ALPS titles in 2015 with Koiranen GP, but ultimately saw both titles slip by following an undisclosed problem with his car that saw him drop out of contention, but the British driver admitted his pride of how he performed during the year.
“The majority (of 2015) was really good,” said Hughes. “Basically until the Le Mans weekend of the Eurocup in September, I think we were second in Eurocup and leading Formula Renault ALPS.
“On the base of it we had a very good year, we had a lot of wins, lots of poles and podiums, but we had some trouble with the car at the end of the season, which is why, in short, we dropped off a cliff from the Le Mans weekend until the end of the year. We found a concrete reason for that but it was disappointing we didn’t get the finishing result our season deserved.
“It was my second year in 2.0-litre but my first in Eurocup, and I have to be proud of it. On the face of it people won’t know what it could have been because of the problem but I know in myself that I was good enough to win at least one of the championships.
“I’m not saying I definitely would have done because anything can happen on a race weekend with crashes and mechanical failures but what we, as a team, were doing was definitely good enough to win.”
Hughes believes the Eurocup championship is going from strength to strength, with more and more drivers becoming interested in racing in the series. He feels the 2015 driver line-up was strong, with six to seven drivers all in with a chance of victory during the year.
“Generally Eurocup was really strong last year,” said Hughes. “In 2014 it was also strong with Nyck de Vries, but obviously his level was a bit higher than the others.
“I think in our year in Eurocup the top six or seven all won races and it was always us top seven mainly at the front of the field. I think we did a lot for Renault last year, and more people are now looking into the championship that are really good drivers. I had a lot of respect after racing them last year.
“I loved it [at Koiranen], other than the fact Koiranen are the multiple winning team in 2.0-litre, my engineer was the main reason why I signed. He’s really, really good, knows exactly what I need to go quick and we learned more and more about each other over the year. I had a lot of fun with them last year; it was a really enjoyable year.”
Despite having a contract in his pocket, Hughes was unable to disclose his destination to The Checkered Flag, but did reveal that he will be stepping up from the 2.0-litre category of Formula Renault in 2016.
“We’ve already signed our contract for this year, I can’t really say yet because the team want to hold back on it for their press release as well,” revealed Hughes. “I won’t be in Formula Renault 2.0-litre, I’m moving upwards, and I’m obviously really excited.
“I’m just a massive racing addict, to say that I can not only be a fan of it but actually go and race now will be the higher echelons of junior level single seater motorsport, I’m really privileged to be able to do it, but I don’t rest on laurels, I don’t really look backwards really either, I’m just really looking forward to this year and I’m sure no one can’t work harder than what I will be this year.”
Hughes still has Formula 1 ambitions, and hopes all his hard work behind the scenes and on the track is seen by the important people within the F1 fraternity.
“Formula 1 is always the aim,” said Hughes. “I think for anyone in single seaters it will always be the aim. If you knew it wasn’t possible you would go and do something else.
“But I’m not stupid enough to not realise that it’s really difficult to get there. Obviously money is a big factor, and even if you have the money you have to be in the right place at the right time.
“That’s why I say I have to work harder than anyone else, and hopefully the important people in Formula 1 recognise that in the next year or two and hopefully I’ll get my chance.”