Mitch Evans scores valuable points as Panasonic Jaguar Racing struggle on China debut
Jaguar Land Rover
Mitch Evans continues his feat of scoring points in every race this season, as Panasonic Jaguar Racing endured a tough debut in the sweltering Chinese heat.
The New Zealand driver is one of only two drivers left in
the ABB FIA Formula E Championship to have scored points in every race this
season, alongside Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler’s Daniel Abt.
Although a positive for Mitch and the team, there is a
nagging thought of what could have been, as qualifying proved a struggle once
again. After a strong free practice session, neither Mitch nor team-mate Nelson
Piquet Jr could record a meaningful hot lap in the qualification session, with
both starting at the back of the grid – P20 and P22 respectively.
The Jaguar I-TYPE 3’s pace in racing conditions once again
shone through, as both drivers made up plenty of places with a strong start. Mitch
also recorded the second fastest lap of the race – one tenth of a second slower
that the quickest time posted by race winner Jean-Éric Vergne.
Despite a positive start, both drivers encountered difficulties
during the race. Some race signage obstructed Mitch’s view as it got caught up
in his halo safety device, while Nelson’s race came to a premature end for the third
race in-a-row as he collided with a wall.
Having climbed seven places, Mitch was mounting a charge to score
some points when the race was red-flagged with 12 minutes remaining. The short
stoppage played into the Kiwi’s hands as he quickly overtook Venturi’s Felipe
Massa, before a collision between Envision Virgin Racing’s Robert Frijns and
Audi Sport’s Luca Di Grassi on the penultimate lap saw Mitch finish ninth and
claim two valuable points.
Speaking about the team’s debut in China, Team Director
James Barclay said there is frustration that despite making improvements to the
car, qualifying is still proving troublesome.
“We were quick in free practice but just didn’t repeat that
lap in qualifying,” he added. “We must analyse how we can improve and unlock
the potential when we qualify to get the maximum out of the I-TYPE 3.
“Mitch was holding the fastest lap right up until the end,
so again we demonstrated we have a good race car that I’m confident we can
achieve a podium with, if we have strong starting position. We can’t let this
frustration get on top of us – we must turn this into positive motivation.”
Mitch admitted the team’s struggles in qualifying is a
“I was quite happy with the car in free practice but it felt
like a completely different car in qualifying, which is frustrating.
“To start right at the back is never what you want. When you
start last all you can hope for is something, and we got points. For our
standards it’s not where we should be.”
Nelson also bemoaned the team’s qualifying performance,
adding: “Usually there is only one strategy, which is being aggressive. In my
case today, I take full responsibility for hitting the wall – I was pushing, I
had nothing to lose and I had to try and gain positions.”
The race was won by reigning champion Jean-Éric Vergne ahead
of Nissan E.Dams’ Oliver Rowland and BMW i Andretti’s António Félix da Costa, with
the latter taking top spot in the Driver’s Championship.
Mitch and Nelson are currently 11th and 20th in the
standings, while Panasonic Jaguar Racing drops to eight in the Constructor’s
The team will now head to Rome for the next race as the
European leg of the championship begins on April 13.