Motorsport: Silverstone Challenge

By Eric Thompson

Young Kiwi GP2 driver is looking forward to success on British Grand Prix track

Monte Carlo marked a return to the podium for Kiwi GP2 racer Mitch Evans after two disappointing rounds in Bahrain and Barcelona. Picture / GP2media
Monte Carlo marked a return to the podium for Kiwi GP2 racer Mitch Evans after two disappointing rounds in Bahrain and Barcelona. Picture / GP2media

Kiwi GP2 driver Mitch Evans is ready to slide back into the cockpit of his Arden International racecar this weekend as a support category for the British Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone.

The 19-year-old Aucklander's tilt at the GP2 championship started successfully at the opening round in Kuala Lumpur, when he won a podium place as rookie in the class.

He faced failure during the next two rounds in Bahrain and Barcelona but came good in Monaco.

Proving that adversity can be a great teacher, Evans stormed around the streets of the principality to notch up two third places and haul himself back up the point's table to sit seventh in the championship.

He is only 22 points behind third-place driver Sam Bird, but will have his work cut out to catch runaway leaders Felipi Nasr in second and Stefano Coletti at the top of the championship.

"Obviously getting a win at the British Grand Prix would be really great, but we need a clean weekend getting some good points and then we can move on from there," said Evans.

"It's been a bit of a yo-yo season, not only for us but a few other teams who are struggling as well.

"The team was really strong last year but we're not so good this year. We're improving each weekend and Monaco was great for us all.

"The car feels good and we have to keep the momentum moving in the right direction. The two races after the Malaysian round felt like a kick between the legs. Monaco was great but it's only the start."

But the GP2 tyres are causing a considerable amount of grief and Pirelli has nominated a combination of the hard and medium compound tyres for the weekend - a combination that has not been tried this season.

"There's been a lot of talk about the tyre problem and how it's affecting everyone. When they go off it's like falling off a cliff. There's no real warning and once they're gone there's nothing you can do about it, said a philosophical Evans.

Evans likes the Silverstone, Northamptonshire circuit and tasted success there last year in the GP3 championship. On his way to winning the title, Evans put his car on pole and scored a second place finish in race one.

"I like the track and the layout of it. I did well here last year and have spent a lot of time in the simulator getting familiar with it again. These cars [GP2] are a lot bigger and faster than a GP3 car and a bit of a handful to get the most out of them.

"The team has put a lot of work into the car since Monaco and it's all looking really good for the weekend. I'm going to take the bull by the horns and deal with whatever is going to be thrown at me."

Silverstone has several high speed corners, especially Copse, which demands a high level of concentration and a brave hand on the tiller to get a fast lap during qualifying. Each time Evans leaves pit lane he's becoming more and more familiar with the nuances of the GP2 car and becoming ever more comfortable and confident in it.

"At 19, I was pretty much only just coming to Europe so I was a long, long way behind where Mitch is now," said Evans' manager and mentor Red Bull Racing's F1 driver Mark Webber.

"I'm impressed with how easily he's adapted to GP2. He's now looking a bit more comfortable in the bigger car with a bit more power."

Silverstone is notorious for fickle weather conditions that can catch the unwary out and temperatures can fluctuate between 15C and 30C. The track was also partially resurfaced in 2011 meaning the surface abrasiveness changes from section to section, putting even more pressure on tyre wear.

GP2 points after four rounds

1. Stefano Coletti

2. Felipe Nasr

3. Sam Bird

4. Fabio Leimer

5. James Calado

6. Robin Frijns

7. Mitch Evans

8. Jolyon Palmer

- NZ Herald

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