Motorsport: Better luck next season

By Eric Thompson

Frustration for young Kiwi driver as gremlins take toll on bid for GP2 success

Mitch Evans tests for the GP2 team Russian Time at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi this week. Picture / GP2 Media
Mitch Evans tests for the GP2 team Russian Time at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi this week. Picture / GP2 Media

Mitch Evans has had a frustrating year in GP2 - he's been on the podium several times but he's also parked up at various places on various circuits.

The young Aucklander's frustration as a burgeoning professional racing driver is understandable - he knows he can mix it at the front, but he's also been undone by mechanical gremlins.

But Evans has been in motorsport long enough to realise it's all part of the picture and should be happy he's got the skills to more than warrant being on the GP2 grid, especially as a former GP3 champion.

His talent as an open-wheel driver has been acknowledged by two of the series' leading teams, and he has been testing for Russian Time and Racing Engineering.

The first won the team title at the last round of the series in Abu Dhabi and the second helped Fabio Leimer clinch the drivers' title.

"My times weren't too bad but, to be honest, I was hoping for something a bit better," said Evans after his first testing session.

"In my last trial I got a bit screwed by yellow flags so I couldn't improve on my time. Looking at the sector times I should have been P2 or P3, so that was frustrating but it is what it is."

He finished the session fourth fastest.

"Other than the yellows, there were a lot of positives to take out of the day, and it was good to be faster than my old teammate [Jonny Cecotto]."

Jumping from one GP2 car to another and going fast is no easy feat. The blokes who have not driven a GP2 car before can sometimes be the quickest drivers on the day. They just jump in and drive the thing, as it's a new experience.

It can take a session or two for the drivers who have had a season, or more, in GP2 to understand someone else's car and get used to a different set-up.

"The feeling from each car and the feedback you get is different each time. It's not easy to leap from car to car as all the teams have set the car up differently to suit the driver who was racing it.

"It's always going to take a bit of time to come to grips with the different feel. It's like driving a different car - it's still a GP2 car but everything is different to the car I've been racing all season," said Evans.

"The brakes are different, the seating is different, the throttle maps aren't the same and the whole car set-up is different. It can be tough and it takes a bit of the time I have in the car to understand how the new one works and then I can get down to putting some serious laps in.

"Once I got the hang of the Russian Time car, I was comfortable and it all seemed positive and the team was reasonably happy with the job I'd done.

"There definitely was a little bit more potential there but we'll just have to see what happens.

"I wasn't on top of the time sheets but it certainly wasn't horrible."

In some ways, Evans is pleased his first season in GP2 is over, although he regrets that the car was not as well engineered as he would have liked. When it was in the sweet spot the Kiwi was at the front of the field.

"When things don't go your way for the majority of the season you realise the year just wasn't meant to be. That's the way it goes in motor racing and it's good to experience another team.

"As for next year, we'll just have to see how it goes."

After testing Evans is off to the doctor for a scan on his shoulder, which has been popping out from time to time.

- NZ Herald

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