Despite a tough opening portion of the season, New Zealand’s Mitch Evans claims some good prizes are still possible, but also that the title may be beyond him.
Evans, who has taken two wins and a podium this season, has suffered from bouts of unreliability and a RUSSIAN TIME car that has occasionally proved a handful to drive.
However the Kiwi believes the outlook for the rest of the year is reasonably good. “At the start of the season, we were quick, but we didn’t have enough to be challenging for race wins,” said the 20-year-old at a recent race meet in Hockenheim.
While it might be tempting to think a title challenge is on the cards following Evans’ two Feature Race victories at Silverstone and Hockenheim, the Auckland native is a somewhat more grounded. “Maybe Jolyon [Palmer, points leader] is too far ahead, but we will give it everything we’ve got until it is not possible.”
Over the opening two weekend’s in Bahrain and Spain, Evans had only scored two points; however a podium at the next round in Monaco proved a turning point.
“We had a car to get to the podium if we had a good race,” says Evans of his runner-up finish behind Palmer, adding, “the car still had a lot of room for improvement, but I seem to go well around there, so I could still drive around it.”
Following a difficult round in Hungary last weekend, the affable Kiwi lays 100 points adrift of Palmer as the GP2 Series enters it summer break. Considering the gap, Evans believes more humble goals are workable. “We have to be realistic. Obviously 2nd and 3rd [in points] are still realistic.”
With four race weekends remaining, Evans is 6th in the standings with 92 points, but remains within close proximity to the Stoffel Vandoorne / Johnny Cecotto Jr / Stefano Coletti battle.
Current 2nd place man Felipe Nasr may be a tougher fight, but the 2012 GP3 Series Champion thinks there is more to come from his Mechachrome-powered Dallara.
The long break between Monaco and Austria offered the RUSSIAN TIME team an opportunity to consider their issues and there appears to have been some success. “In Austria we made improvements and then we really made a step forward in Silverstone.”
Yet, it is not inconceivable that the lost weekend in Hungary could cost Evans come the finale in November; however despite that the RUSSIAN TIME racer and Mark Webber protégé has still outscored Nasr by 52-44 points since Silverstone.
Meanwhile, Evans remains positive as the series enters yet another four-week gap, as he looks to his RUSSIAN TIME team to continue to eat into the gap ahead. “We will see what happens. Hopefully we can keep that up for the rest of the championship.”