Mitch Evans could get even faster, as definitive season beckons
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New Zealand's Formula E racer Mitch Evans enjoyed some ups and downs in the season-opening round in Hong Kong over the weekend but will be buoyed by his team's improved speed.
The Panasonic Jaguar Racing driver collected a first podium finish in Sunday's race and demonstrated impressive one-lap speed throughout.
It was a massive improvement on his debut season where the Jaguar cars struggled compared to their rivals having taken over an existing team too late in the piece to make improvements to the power train.
"Last year we all knew Jag had a generation 1 car while all the others had a generation 3 car," Evans' father Owen Evans told The Herald. "It was too late for Jag to do any alterations to the drive trains.
"The homologation has to be done in July and once that is done you are fixed for the season. They were in the predicament of buying the team after that and so they knew they wouldn't be that competitive last season."
Having had the opportunity this off-season to make changes to their power train Jaguar were hoping to be closer to the front of the grid for season two.
"No one really knew this weekend where everyone stood," Evans said. "They had done some testing but many teams didn't show too much.
"We knew Mitch was fifth quickest and only a tenth off the fastest so we knew it looked good."
The signs were there during practice that the changes had worked as Evans recorded some impressive times.
But as they went out for qualifying on Saturday Evans' team wanted to try and maximize track conditions and held him back as long as possible to get the advantage of a surface with more rubber on it and therefore more grip.
Their plan was foiled by getting their timing wrong.
"Mitch came out quite late and I thought at the time that I hoped the team knew what they were doing," Evans said. "He actually set the fastest time but he got his time taken away because he was three seconds too late.
"I was gutted because it was an unacceptable error on the team's part. That is something to me that is pretty basic."
Starting at the back made it impossible to climb inside the top 10 point-scoring positions and he finished 14th.
Evans posted the fastest qualifying time on Sunday however but again he was hampered by minor issues that proved costly.
He set the second fastest time in super pole (the top five cars in qualifying race off for pole position) but had it take away for his car exceeding the 200kw limit.
Owen Evans isn't sure the punishment was fair.
"The day before Maro Engel finished fourth and he got disqualified for the same thing. It is a bit like a turbo spike – if the wheel comes off the ground it ran to 200kw and then it drops down. It is the blink of an eyelid. There is no performance gain.
"It is actually a disadvantage because for the rest of the lap the computer thinks it is running too high so it runs at 197kw.
"But those are the rules."
Evans went on to finish third and secure the team's first ever podium on Sunday.
But while the Jaguar clearly has impressive one-lap pace they have some work to do with their race pace and energy consumption.
"A surprise to me was the pace the Venturi team had," Evans said. "They have been nowhere but Mercedes are behind them now. They have got in with them to learn about Formula E and Engel and Mortari are both DTM drivers.
"Audi now take over this year and next year BMW take over from Andretti."
"Energy-wise Jaguar was a hell of a lot better than last year but well behind the Venturi cars."
- NZ Herald