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Magic Moments of 2018: Evans’ Zurich Rollercoaster

Emotions ran high in Zurich when Mitch Evans saw his chance of victory slip away…

Photo: Formula E

If you ever doubted how much Mitch Evans wants to win a Formula E race then you need to get your hands on a copy of his pit-to-car radio from Zurich last June.

The contents would make Gordon Ramsey blush!

The inflamed emotion in Evans’ disappointed rant, as he saw a possibility of at least challenging for victory slipped through his grasp, was ear-splittingly to the point.

It was very much from the heart because that’s how Mitch Evans competes.

He only knows one way, and it’s this way of operating which will likely see him scratch the furious itch of winning a Formula E race.

Whether that is with Panasonic Jaguar Racing or another future big manufacturer employer is open for debate because the Kiwi is fast arriving at a crucial juncture in his career.

All that is for the future though. Back in June, amid the magnificent ambience and scenery of Lake Zurich, Evans was operating at an exceptional level.

On the back of several competitive races, two of which he arguably could have won at Punta del Este and Rome, he was now starting on pole, and a brilliant pole at that.

The other slice of good news for him was that the Audis were starting fifth (Lucas di Grassi) and seventh (Daniel Abt). The anticipation at Jaguar was almost tangiable.

From the start Evans led and led well, but di Grassi was picking off his adversaries with worrying efficiency and the I-Type 2 was unable to resist.

By lap 16 the reigning champion was into second place and almost in the blink of an eye he was on to the back of the Jaguar and forging his way through with ridiculous ease.

Still, Evans held second after the stops, still in position for at least his best ever Formula E finish.

Then it all unravelled.

Along with Andre Lotterer [who had just grabbed second from Evans], Jose Maria Lopez, Jean-Eric Vergne and Sebastien Buemi, Evans was given a drive-through penalty.

While others had got up to speed too quickly, Evans had failed to slow quickly enough.

Seismic activity began to build in the cockpit.

It was at this stage that the radio went red hot and the molten mist rising from his cockpit was deployed into what should have been an effervescent comeback.

But it never really transpired and seventh was the wholly dejected result after a rollercoaster weekend.

Seething, Evans vacated his cockpit and left the circuit as quickly as he could, the fury inside him too potent to be checked.

While many, e-racing365 included, were disappointed not to speak to him afterwards, in hindsight it may have been for the best!

But, in the elbows-out world of Formula E it was yet further evidence that what some still see as a gimmicky discipline of motorsport was in fact one of the most competitive and difficult.

Opinion on the outburst was divided, but the facts were it was just a young and frustrated racing driver caring passionately about getting a result, one that on balance he and the team deserved.

So why is this rather sparky weekend such a magical moment from 2018?

Simple. It showcased a moment of great sporting theater and one which showed that the performers were driven by more than just prestige, manufacturer buzzwords and inevitable marketing sheen.

Evans came back of course and took an equally impressive front-row slot in the first race at New York a month later.

Ironically there was more disappointment when a driveshaft let go. It was almost a comic end to a season which could easily have seen him break in to the top five in the final standings.

As Gen 1 came to an end and the pace of some of Jaguar’s rivals became known with their Gen 2 packages, the big question now was if Jaguar’s big chance of a win had fallen through collective fingers?

Time will tell on that one, but rest assured that if Mitch Evans gets the Big Cat’s cream then the celebration and emotion from the cockpit will be justifiably and joyously intense.

Photo: Formula E

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for Motorsport.com from 2014-17. Contact Sam

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