FORMULA E “IT WAS A CRAZY RACE WITH A LOT OF CRASHES SO THE STRATEGY HAD TO CHANGE.” Finding time to chat with one of Formula E’s fastest drivers is a tricky business. Like Formula 1 it’s a global racing calendar spread over most of the year, with a dozen races in nine cities, from Marrakesh to Mexico City and Berlin to New York. When The Jaguar catches up with 23-year-old New Zealander Mitch Evans it’s only days before the final two races of the season, held over one weekend in Montreal, Canada, and he’s hoping to add to both his and the Panasonic Jaguar Racing team’s points tally (spoiler alert: he did). It’s been a tough but exciting learning curve for the Jaguar team in its first stint in the young racing series – 2016-17 is only Formula E’s third season – but Evans sounds calm, focused and reflective when discussing their progress. “We’ve had some highs and lows, but in terms of highs it would have to be Mexico,” he says, “and not just personally but for the whole team. It was a crazy race with a lot of crashes, so the strategy had to change, but it was the highest finish for both drivers to date.” Evans gained a hard-fought fourth spot in that Mexico City race and his Northern Irish teammate Adam Carroll was also in the points, as both gained confidence in, and knowledge of, the specific skills needed for Formula E. While Evans believes a Formula E car is not so different from Formula 1 in terms of driving style, one area he says has been a real challenge is how the driver manages his electric vehicle’s power reserves. “Energy saving is a new technique you have to learn,” he concedes, “and using complex technology to get the most out of the car. The braking performance is very different, with regeneration through the rear axle, that’s very hard to get right.” A bit like the way Formula 1 drivers must race a certain way to preserve the quality of their tires to stay out longer before a pit stop, so Formula E drivers need to manage how much energy to harvest through regenerative braking (as well-planned braking can capture enough ‘free’ energy to race up to seven extra laps). Evans continues: “It depends on the battery’s state of charge. If you run more re-gen when the car’s in a stable, better charge state, [the braking] becomes more aggressive, but you re-coup more energy into the batteries, so it’s a give and take thing. You try and have the right ‘brake balance’ that makes the car more predictable and balanced. The engineers are always analyzing the data to make sure we have the optimized performance there.” Beyond different racing styles, Evans also appreciates the meritocracy of Formula E, from a driver perspective. “Every driver is a professional, so it adds weight to the championship. There’s maybe only one other championship in the world where every driver gets paid and they’re all there on their own merit.” Evans’ competitive streak is well-developed, karting from the tender age of six and coming from a racing family – his dad holds New Zealand’s land speed record and runs a specialist garage, and his older brother races V8 touring cars. Evans knew he was good at age seven, beating boys several years his senior to win his local Mount Wellington club championship, and soon rose through the ranks. Career highlights to date include winning the 2012 GP3 Series and coming second in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans in the LMP2 category. He joined the Panasonic Jaguar Racing Formula E team at the start of the 2016-17 season. Away from racing he likes “to chill out a lot” – perhaps meeting friends using his F-PACE daily driver or staying in to watch one of his favorite TV shows Two and a Half Men – but he’ll soon be training hard at his southwest London gym for Formula E’s season four, starting in Hong Kong this December. The development of the Jaguar I-TYPE 2 is well under way and he couldn’t be more excited, as he concludes: “The whole championship will go up another level next year, it will be faster, and hopefully more exciting for everyone watching. We’re super pumped up for that.” For the latest developments, visit jaguarracing.com 38 THE JAGUAR
2016/17 marked the first season in Formula E for both Mitch Evans and Panasonic Jaguar Racing. After a tough but exciting learning curve, he is optimistic about the upcoming season.