A rookie season in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship is more or less the equivalent of being thrown in the deep end.
In 2019 that rang true for Macauley Jones, who faced his fair share of challenges.
There was already added external pressure to prove himself, as the son of team owner and former Supercars driver Brad Jones, and his campaign was immediately jolted by a brutal crash in Adelaide.
By the end of Phillip Island in April, things weren’t going well. He had yet to qualify better than 20th in a mostly 24-car field and race results weren’t proving much kinder.
It was around then that his biggest lesson was learnt.
“It was something that I had to step back after Phillip Island, I think it was, and reassess some things because I probably wasn’t enjoying it,” Jones told Supercars.com.
“I was putting way too much pressure on myself and making too many mistakes.
“I was trying a bit too hard from pretty much missing the first round at Adelaide.
“It took a bit of a step back… I took a weekend off and really found what I needed to do and ever since then it’s been on the up and I’ve bounced back from race meetings whether they have gone good or bad.”
Part of that finding was a conscious decision to put less pressure on himself.
“It’s not being so results-driven and just focus on that process,” the 25-year-old continued.
“I think that’s key in your first year, you’ve got to get it under your belt and you’ve got to get the experience, whereas I was trying to go out there and rag it all of the time and you’d make too many mistakes.”
Standout results did not suddenly appear but rarely do they in a maiden Supercars season.
Bit by bit, though, he inched his way forward, qualifying a respectable 17th and 16th for the two Newcastle heats last month.
It’s the kind of progress he hopes to build on in 2020, as the likes of second-year drivers Anton De Pasquale and Todd Hazelwood did this season.
“We just sort of stuck to what we knew and it definitely was paying off towards the end of the year,” Jones said.
“Even the results in a couple of the races doesn’t show the potential I think that we had.
“Now heading into my second season, I need to be more on top of that stuff so again the [improvement] process is quicker but it does come with experience as well.”
Jones will be joined at BJR in 2020 by Nick Percat, Hazelwood and newcomer Jack Smith.