“There is no reason why not,” Rome ePrix winner Mitch Evans tells me when I ask if he can win the remaining races in the Formula E calendar this year. He has a huge grin on his face, stinks of champagne and sweat and is bouncing from the contestant hype from the media pen. Just minutes earlier, Evans took not only his first Formula E win after two and a half seasons, but also finally helped Jaguar Racing clench their first win in the all-electric motorsport.
Speaking exclusively to katyfairman.com after the race, Evans described the thrill of this first Formula E win and how he managed to keep his cool one year after a possible podium in Rome slipped through his fingertips – oh and the part when he referred to himself as an “absolute idiot” for missing the second attack mode by just centimetres with a hungry Andre Lotterer breathing down his neck to take the lead of the ePrix.
“Did you wake up this morning and think that today you would win your first Formula E race,” the interview began. “To be honest,” Evans paused, “no.”
“I mean, I woke up very positive. It was a big reset from Sanya, actually really since Chile. We had lost some performance in the car and it has been tough but that sweet spot was back today. From the first laps in practice I felt comfortable. Obviously, that lead to a nice qualifying result which put us in a great place and which is so important in this championship.
“As soon as you are in that mid-pack, that sort of rat race, it is very hard to get out. From early on in the race, I felt very comfortable. I was good on energy compared to Andre which I was surprised about and I needed to use it. It worked well with the attack mode, got a nice sort of crossover with them and thought ‘okay, this [overtake for the lead] is going to be tight but I need to go for it. I committed to it, there was a bit of contact, I have not seen the replay and I was never trying to do anything.
“That was my opportunity and I took it. It was fair on both sides, there was contact, but that is just due to the nature of the corner. It is tight, I couldn’t go anywhere, he was trying to turn as well and it was a bit awkward but I managed to get through and to see him in my mirrors was a nice feeling.”
Needing to use attack mode twice during the race, Evans took a chance and darted across the marked lines on the track to initiate it. Unfortunately, Evans missed the second line by centimetres and had to try again a few laps later – stressful for the two drivers battling for the win but greatly entertaining for those of us watching this duel unfold in front of our very eyes.
“To be honest I made my life a bit harder, missing the second attack mode,” Evans continued. “It must have been really close, I was thinking I was just getting it under control and then I go and do that and I thought “you are an absolute idiot”. But I had so much pace in the car, the car was really quick, so I was not worried but once I got the second attack mode I thought “right we have got this now”.
As mentioned, last year in Rome Evans had a strong performance and looked to be on track for a strong podium finish for him and the team. Energy management as well as a technical fault snatched that away from him in the final few laps of the race last year, so a win in Rome also came with the sweet taste of redemption.
“You can have [flashbacks],” when asked about if previous bad luck can ever haunt you when you are doing so well in a race like today’s, “but I didn’t have that.”
“Today was a similar sort of scenario to last year with hunting down Andre Lotterer, but I felt a lot more in control. I didn’t want to rush it as much as last year. Last year we actually had a few more issues with the gearbox that hurt us but there was a lot to learn from and I think after that race I did learn a lot which is ongoing – I am always learning little things. But yeah, there weren’t really any flashbacks, it was more just keeping it clean.
“I was just a bit surprised on the pace that we had because normally the fierce TECHEETAH’s are super quick in the race, so once I went past him I was super happy and was just counting the laps down.”
The race looked like it could have been a damp one which originally came of a concern to the latest Formula E winner.
“The last time we were driving in the damp conditions, which was Hong Kong, we weren’t so competitive so I was quite worried when it was raining. I was thinking ‘we have track position, just be sure to use it and let’s take it as it comes’ but it dried up pretty quick due to the red flag and there was no worries after that.”