Mitch Evans Is Formula One’s next Big Thing
The brightest star in the Formula One (F1) feeder series GP2 is Aucklander Mitch Evans who has amassed an impressive list of accolades despite being just 21 years old. He also has an attribute sorely missing amongst many auto racing drivers: a character.
Evans took a traditional route into racing by starting in karts in 2001 when he was aged six. Between 2001 and 2007 he won 13 karting titles and showed such promise in his home country that he moved on to international competition. In 2007 he qualified for the World Rotax Finals in Dubai and became its youngest ever competitor at the age of 13.
His career accelerated from there as he switched to car racing and competed in several local series in New Zealand and Australia including its renowned Formula Ford Championship. The series is known for being one of the toughest of its type and Evans scored six wins, three poles, six fastest laps and 15 podiums in 23 races. He finished the 2009 season as runner-up but won perhaps an even bigger prize away from the track.
In 2012 Evans won the GP3 championship and took three victories, six podiums and four pole positions. It put him a step closer to F1 and the following year his career moved up a gear when he switched to the Arden GP2 team. His first race was in Malaysia where Evans made history by becoming the youngest ever GP2 driver to reach the podium. It was just the start.
“Physically the cars aren’t easy to drive so we prepare a lot. GP2 is very physical,” Evans explains. “No power steering and very much the raw car which is great. Physically GP2 is a lot different to GP3. Technically, you need to drive the car differently. The tyres are a big thing. You notice the step up particularly in the power. Cornering speed is also a little bit higher but mainly just straight line speed. It arrives in the corner a lot quicker and it’s a blast. Every time I jump in the car I have fun. It’s a very cool car to drive and you do notice the difference when you do move up but you get used to it.”
In addition to racing in GP2 this year Evans is competing for British team Jota Sport in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) which is famous for its flagship 24 hour race at Le Mans in France. The tiers of the championship are named after it and Evans’ car is an LMP2 which stands for ‘Le Mans Prototype 2’.
Big local sponsors that are partnering with Evans at this early stage will pay off when F1 finally takes note of his achievements. His heritage alone makes him unique as the last New Zealander who raced in F1 was Mike Thackwell back in 1984.
Original article by Christian Sylt, Forbes, July 10, 2015.