The challenge of regaining career momentum after a year on the sidelines

OPINION: After winning the 2019 Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year award, it has been a tricky past 18 months for Johnathan Hoggard. But now the Jenzer Motorsport FIA Formula 3 driver reckons he’s back on track

The challenge of regaining career momentum after a year on the sidelines

It’s been an interesting time. Winning the 2019 Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award was quite high profile, with a lot of teams contacting me, and then I was offered a free drive in the 2020 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, which I was looking forward to.

We were looking to do a dual programme with GTs and single-seaters, so we’d have plenty of options available and then concentrate on whichever one we wanted to go into. I did one round of the Porsche Sprint Challenge in Malaysia and was getting ready for round one of the Carrera Cup Asia and then the pandemic hit. I wasn’t able to travel, and everyone was in lockdown.

After winning the Award, racing at the Daytona 24 Hours, and being ready for the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, I was building on everything, and my name was coming up quite a lot. Teams were getting in contact, it was helpful with finding sponsorship, and then it all kind of came crashing down.

I wasn’t being forgotten about, but it was getting quite late on in the year and I was ready to do the Carrera Cup Asia season, but it never got going, so I was doing some testing, including in the FIA Formula 3 Championship, and then had my Red Bull Racing F1 test in October. It was disappointing and very frustrating to go from everything going really well to then stopping and not being able to do the sort of driving that I was planning.

The Red Bull Racing F1 test for winning the Award was really nice to enjoy. It kind of got my name out there again and showed I’m still here. I really enjoyed it. It was a fair bit of track time – I had the whole day just to go out whenever I wanted. We waited for the track to dry up in the morning, and then did all of our running in the afternoon.

PLUS: How an Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Award winner starred on his F1 debut 

There was no pressure, it was just a case of enjoying the day. I wanted to do as well as I could because it’s not every day you get to drive an F1 car. Hopefully it shows that, even though I’ve had a bit of time out, I’m still on the pace.

Johnathan Hoggard, Red Bull Racing RB8

Johnathan Hoggard, Red Bull Racing RB8

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

I did half a day on the simulator beforehand, just to get used to everything. But I felt very relaxed. I wasn’t thinking, ‘I’m driving a Formula 1 car; this is quite stressful’. There were no complaints from the team. It was just like a normal test day, to be honest, they all thought I did a good job, or they said so! It was a great day to enjoy and any day you get in a car is good.

To drive a faster car with more downforce helps when you drive something slower, as you’re more precise because you can think a lot quicker. Everything slows down a bit more because, when you’re thinking as fast as an F1 car goes, you naturally are able to cope with it a bit better.

We were struggling to get the budget together for this season. We looked across the whole of motorsport to see what we could do but unfortunately never made the progress we wanted to. Then a really good opportunity came up in FIA F3 when I got the call from Jenzer Motorsport and my sponsor, Travel Planet, which came together really quickly, even though I missed round one in Barcelona.

I had experience from the post-season tests at Barcelona and Jerez in 2020, so it was a case of trying to remember that and build on it as best I could in the limited time I had. It was only one or two weeks from knowing I was doing Paul Ricard to actually being at the circuit!

It was tough, especially not knowing the track and only having 45 minutes of practice and going straight to qualifying. Now I’m trying to build on each round as I go, taking it as it comes, trying to make the best of this opportunity.

Looking to the end of the season, I think we can be in the mix. I need to sort out qualifying, because that’s been the weak point for the past two rounds. The racing has been fairly good, especially at the Red Bull Ring, where I managed to get 10th place in race two.

If I manage to qualify a lot higher, then the goal of being in the points-paying positions isn’t too far away. I can make up places and, if any drama kicks off, I’ll be in the right place to capitalise on it.

It was good to make progress from Paul Ricard to the Red Bull Ring. And now hopefully I can make progress again, heading to Budapest this weekend. The Hungaroring is a tricky circuit and I’ve never been there before. It will be tough and there’s plenty of work to be done to be able to perform better, but it should be an enjoyable experience.

Johnathan Hoggard, Jenzer Motorsport

Johnathan Hoggard, Jenzer Motorsport

Photo by: Drew Gibson / Motorsport Images

shares
comments
F2, F3 evaluating calendar and format changes for 2022

Previous article

F2, F3 evaluating calendar and format changes for 2022

Next article

Hungary F3: Smolyar tops practice ahead of Hauger

Hungary F3: Smolyar tops practice ahead of Hauger
Load comments
How Campos Racing has bounced back from its devastating loss Plus

How Campos Racing has bounced back from its devastating loss

After the sudden death of its founder in January, Formula 2 stalwart Campos Racing was left facing its hardest season to date. But new team boss Adrian Jr is determined to honour his father’s legacy and has returned the team to its winning ways

FIA F2
Sep 20, 2021
How F2 and F3's flawed format changes could prove shortlived Plus

How F2 and F3's flawed format changes could prove shortlived

After a chaotic 2020, marred by the coronavirus pandemic, the FIA brought in radical changes to Formula 2 and 3. But less than 12 months later, there are talks of them being reversed after all did not go to plan…

FIA F2
Sep 9, 2021
How the latest 'son of' youngster found his feet in F3 Plus

How the latest 'son of' youngster found his feet in F3

After a promising start to his single-seater racing career, life in the Formula 1 feeder series gave Jack Doohan a reality check. But, following a year of learning and toiling, the driver with one of the most famous surnames on the Formula 3 grid isn’t feeling the weight of expectation pushing down too hard on him any longer

FIA F3
Jun 30, 2021
The Monaco win that started another triple crown Plus

The Monaco win that started another triple crown

30 years ago, victory in the Monaco Grand Prix-supporting Formula 3 race – then a showpiece invitational event – began a young Jorg Muller’s pursuit of a unique set of street circuit wins that he’d later complete at Macau and Pau

FIA F3
May 21, 2021
How two F3 stars face new challenges from very different perspectives Plus

How two F3 stars face new challenges from very different perspectives

ART Grand Prix team-mates Frederik Vesti and Juan Manuel Correa's paths to the 2021 FIA Formula 3 Championship grid couldn’t have been further apart, but both are using the same focus for different goals

FIA F3
May 5, 2021
Why Correa's return is the feelgood story racing needed Plus

Why Correa's return is the feelgood story racing needed

Juan Manuel Correa has had a long road to recovery from that horrific day at Spa in 2019. ART's decision to give him his race return in FIA Formula 3 in 2021 is a victory in itself, but his determination will surely - in time - have him fighting for bigger things

FIA F3
Feb 2, 2021
Why Piastri's F3 title was better than results suggested Plus

Why Piastri's F3 title was better than results suggested

F3 rookie Oscar Piastri only just snatched the 2020 title with Prema Racing, but the setbacks he overcame to do so suggest that Renault's next Australian talent is one destined for the top

FIA F3
Jan 12, 2021
The ground-effect wonder behind a generation of F1 stars Plus

The ground-effect wonder behind a generation of F1 stars

Recently named as Autosport's greatest single-seater, Ralt's RT3 launched a plethora of superstar drivers through the early 1980s, and established the constructor as the go-to place for your single-seater weapon

FIA F3
Dec 8, 2020