Hughes can count on more than 10 years' experience in single seaters across BRDC Formula 4, where he became its inaugural champion, Formula Renault and eventually graduating to Formula 2 for 2022, having secured several during a prior stint in Formula 3.
Alongside his Formula 2 campaign, Hughes took on the role of Reserve and Development Driver with Mercedes-EQ, contributing to title-winning campaigns. Hughes will now graduate to a race seat at the team as it kicks off its Gen3 effort under the McLaren banner.
“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," says 28-year-old Brit 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.”
“Coming in at a time where a new generation car is introduced in the series excites me. It feels like a good opportunity and chance, especially being a rookie in Season 9. It’s set to be a great year and I can’t wait to kick off the journey ahead!”
Rast makes his return to Formula E after a full-time spell with Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler back in Season 7, with a best result of second in Puebla. The Minden-born driver's first appearance in the series came back in 2015/16 and was followed by a stint with Audi back at the Season 6 six-race nine-day finale in Berlin that earned him a full-time drive a year later. He scored his first Formula E silverware on home soil in the German capital, having impressed with his swashbuckling, combative driving style.
Rast is also a triple DTM champion, coming out on top in 2017, 2019 and 2020, and he has claimed overall wins at the 2012 and 2014 24 Hours of Spa, 2014 24 Hours of Nürburgring and class wins at the 2012 and 2016 24 Hours of Daytona.
James: 'Tireless effort to secure the best talent for success'
Ian James, Managing Director of the team, feels an arduous effort to retain its top talent and secure the best from elsewhere, including in-cockpit has yielded results.
“Today’s announcement feels like a long time coming," says James. "Since May this year, when we first announced McLaren Racing’s entry into Formula E, we have been working tirelessly to get in place the best possible team and structure for sustainable success. On the one hand, we have been working on the retention of the amazing talent that already was in place before going into the transitional phase. I’m proud to say I think we’ve done a great job on that front. On the other hand, we have been focusing on putting in place new processes and new talent – and the latter includes the drivers.
“I’m excited to work together with René and Jake this upcoming season. They are both incredibly talented people, and I think they will both bring something different to the mix. René has shown his race craft over and over again in every series he has competed in to date. He is not only extremely fast, but also consistent, and has valuable previous experience in Formula E, which will be of great help both to the team and himself.”
“Jake is an exciting talent, who we have worked with before as our Reserve and Development driver. Over the years, the team and Jake have built a relationship, and that, combined with his sheer talent, will be what can give us an edge going into this season. We’ve given Jake a chance to prove himself on the big stage in Season 9, and his story is a perfect example of the talent development that we believe in as a team.”
“I am delighted to announce our full driver line-up for our inaugural season in Formula E," adds Zak Brown, CEO, McLaren Racing. "A hugely exciting prospect in single seater competition, Jake also has a history with the team as a development and reserve driver. Alongside Rene, who is particularly skilled in a wide range of series, which includes previous experience in Formula E, I believe that this pairing will be crucial in helping us hit the ground running in our first season in the series as the NEOM McLaren Formula E Team.”