Mitch Evans wants you to take notice. Take notice of him and Formula E), that is. The 28-year-old Kiwi is one of the best drivers on the Formula E circuit – the electrified championship that has been running since 2011 – and he’s eyeing his first-ever championship when the Formula E Season 9 commences in January. Whilst many consider the sport to be the younger sibling to Formula 1, it is every bit as exciting, gripping and gruelling as its motorised counterpart… and Formula E is having its moment.
To the untrained eye, Formula E looks a lot similar to Formula 1. Just without the familiar roar and grunt of the fuel-fired engines, replaced with a high-frequency, futuristic whine . It’s a championship that has grown exponentially since its inception in 2011, and a sport that demands the highest level of skill and determination from its drivers. Electric cars field the grid, which, if the governing body wanted, could be as quick – if not quicker – than any current F1 car.
“From a competition point of view, it’s pretty much the same as Formula 1. I would even go as far as to say that Formula E is more difficult. The reason why I say that is because, across the grid, the cars are pretty even because of the regulations. The drivers in the field are a lot closer in talent, too,” says Evans.
“One of the biggest differences is that it’s not as political compared to Formula 1; which is so political, it’s insane. I think you get a real sense of this throughout the Netflix show, Drive to Survive. Whether it’s for the better of the sport, I’m not really sure.”
Evans has been racing in some shape or form since he was six years old, and is now the principal driver for Jaguar TCS Racing team at just 28 years old; the team he’s been racing with since entering Formula E in 2016. Since then, he has slowly but surely become one of the most threatening drivers on the track, with the previous season seeing him take home a total of four wins and finishing second in a gruelling last-effort bid for the championship against the prevailing champion, Stoffel Vandoorne of team Mercedes-EQ.
“Sometimes I wake up and I’m super happy with how everything went [Season 8] and I reflect on some really good moments. But there are other days when it just hits me and it’s like, ‘damn it, I just missed out on the championship.’ It kind of comes through phases and you just go through these waves as an athlete,” explains Evans.
“Obviously, the big thing we’re always chasing is the championship, which just slipped through my fingers. But we [Jaguar] had a really, really strong year, and we’re always chipping away, getting better, understanding this technology and what it needs for the car to go quick. Look, comparing budgets and the results, Mercedes pretty much have an unlimited budget. Jaguar runs a bit tighter and we optimise that with what we’ve got really well, so I’m very proud of the team. But we’re here to win championships and the team is really pushing hard for that.”
Evans and his Jaguar outfit have come a long way since first fielding their team in 2016. He admits they were perhaps the worst team entering Formula E at the time due to a lack of preparation and development of their electric vehicle. But through hard work, determination and the driving prowess of the young Evans, in just six years, Jaguar is going head-to-head with the strongest teams on the grid, like Mercedes and Venturi.
But there’s something to be said about Evans and his driving abilities, too. Talking to the young gun, he’s down to earth and level-headed, yet infectiously passionate and determined to make his mark on the sport as an eventual Formula E champion.
The road to the championship won’t be an easy one. With the impending Season 9 looming, the sport will debut its first-ever Generation3 fleet; a revolutionary update to the previous Gen2 models. Expect faster cars, tighter leaderboards and more upsets with the biggest calendar yet, with 18 races on street circuits in 13 different cities around the world.
“I’ve driven the car [Gen3] three times now. I mean, it’s quite an interesting car to drive but we won’t know until the season starts how the racing will be in the Gen3 compared to Gen2. Adapting our driving style for the new cars is quite a big difference, though. We have a lot more power, but we don’t have a lot more grip, so it’s quite a beast to drive,” says Evans.
“As far as results and performance point of view, I’m completely not where I want to be yet, but I feel like I’m getting closer. Look, I’m a very competitive guy and I want to win multiple championships in Formula E. I want to leave a massive mark from that side, and I feel like I’ve got a lot to give. Obviously, trying to spread awareness of electric mobility is important, too. Formula E is still very new to a lot of people, so to be at the forefront of that and to be a pioneer from the start, I think that is quite a special thing to be part of.”
“But to be one of the champions in this phase of its growth would be really special. Hopefully, I can one day be remembered as one of the great Formula E drivers.”