Britain’s latest IndyCar export, Jack Hawksworth, has impressed many people with his raw pace this year and the Bryan Herta Autosport driver is here to stay. The Bradford native made the brave jump to America in 2012, and the brave move has not gone unrewarded for the 23 year old.
A quick look at Hawksworth’s results so far in the 2014 IndyCar season doesn’t even begin to tell the full story. At first glance, only one top ten and three top 15’s isn’t exactly earthmoving, but the rookie is impressing up and down the grid for a reason.
A second place qualifying spot and the most laps led in the inaugural Indianapolis Grand Prix road course race, and a third place qualifying run at Detroit gives a much better indication of this team and drivers’ ability to run at the front in one of the most competitive series in the world.
“Obviously we haven’t converted enough results yet for one reason or another, but I think we just iron out the details now and get the job done,” Hawksworth told the 24 Motorsports Blog.
“We certainly have the pace to get the results, on numerous occasions we could have done it but we’ve not quite got it together, so we need to keep our heads up and convert.”
Hawksworth finished 21st at St. Petersburg, 15th at Long Beach, 12th at Birmingham, seventh at the Indianapolis Grand Prix, 20th in the Indy 500 and 19th and 14th in the Detroit double header last weekend. He sits 15th in the points standings.
The rookie has consistently run at the front during races, and a combination of variables has left the Brit without the results he truly deserves for the pace he has delivered.
“The series is so close,” he said.
“There’s literally hundredths between winning and being outside the top 10, so you’re looking for every little bit you can squeeze out of the car, every bit you can squeeze out of the driver and then when it all comes together that’s when you’re in a position to win.
“Then you’ve got to get the strategy right, be good in the pits, get a good start, be good on restarts, there’s so many variables.”
Another variable to point out is the competition Hawksworth is facing. Five different winners in seven races so far this year proves that the quality of competition is going to capitalise if you don’t package together all the elements needed to win.
“Indy car is really competitive at the moment, a lot of great teams, a lot of great drivers, the level is pretty high. At the start of the season I wanted to be competitive, I wanted to be running at the front and I think at this level you have to be.”
And competitive he has been. Some expected Hawksworth to be a dark horse on the road course races, but few predicted the strong showing at the Indy 500 in May.
The Brit joined some of the most famous names in British motor sport by competing in his first Indy 500 this year, and impressed many with his pace. Despite running in the top 10 for most of the race, poor strategy ended up costing him a chance at the win, but Hawksworth reflects positively on the experience.
“There’s been a lot of success over here with British drivers in the past, Graham Hill, Dario Franchitti, Dan Wheldon, there are numerous names on the trophy, so the British have done well there. It was an awesome experience to do it.
“The entire event is like a championship in itself, so much prep goes into the event, you’re there for two weeks, qualifying lasts all weekend and then you wait a week for the race. The whole event is very draining mentally because the event goes on for so long, but it’s very rewarding.”
Hawksworth is clearly very happy racing in the States, and is hopeful that the elusive debut win can come sooner rather than later.
“I really like the atmosphere of racing over here. It’s a slightly different atmosphere, I think it’s a bit more team spirit based.
“With the pace we’ve shown there’s no reason we can’t win a race. There’s no reason why we can’t fight for the top positions so we’re going to keep getting better and better.”
Next up on the calendar is Texas, the first 1.5 mile oval so far this year, and the ovals are somewhere Hawksworth is keen to show what he can do.
“From my perspective I’d like some good results on the ovals, I’ve been very strong on the street and road courses, and the ovals are something which I haven’t done much of really, so I’d like to show that I can do it on these ovals.”
The race Hawksworth is really looking forward to is Toronto, where the rookie has some experience from racing in Star Mazda in 2012 and Indy Lights in 2013.
“I’ve always run really well there in the past, I won twice there in Star Mazda and once in Indy Lights, so I really like that place.
“As a track a lot of it is very technical, its 5 minutes outside of downtown Toronto so it’s got a great location, there’s always a really good turnout. It’s one of the events, like Long Beach and Indy, where it’s got a lot of history and some top drivers have won there.”
Hawksworth has shown no signs of the pressure involved in taking on a drive in IndyCar. There’s no doubt that when the ‘variables’ finally come together, this rookie will be ready and able to win, and that’s a worrying thought for IndyCar’s established guard.
Credit to Bryan Herta Autosport for images