AskMen interview: Mitch Evans – “People Think I’m From Australia All The Time And That Does Piss Me Off”, March 2013

An AskMen Q&A with up-and-coming New Zealand open wheel racer, Mitch Evans. Excerpt below.

IMG_7748Mitch Evans announced his arrival in international motorsport in September of last year. Driving at Monza for the MW Arden racing team, the 18-year-old New Zealander took out the GP3 Championship by two points from German driver, Daniel Abt. This, after Evans accumulated the most wins and pole positions of an ultra competitive series. Suddenly he was on everyone’s radar.

Managed by Australian Formula 1 ace, Mark Webber, Evans is now seen as the brightest Antipodean single seat racing prospect in years — decades, perhaps — and some already have him pegged as a potential future F1 champion. Not that getting that far is guaranteed: the barriers between Evans and the top tier have as much to do with money as they do talent.

In 2013, Evans is graduating to GP2, the primary feeder series for Formula 1. The championship kicks off in Malaysia in just under fifteen days’ time, so AskMen got on the phone to the UK to chat to the Aucklander about climbing the single seater ranks, his relationship with Mark Webber, the history of Kiwi motorsport, and his prospects for landing a seat in F1.

Anyone who regularly witnesses Webber one-on-one with the media will know he’s both thoughtful and unflinchingly honest. His protégé turned out to be just the same.

Where are you, Mitch?

I’m in the UK at the moment, an hour north of London. I’ve got a little place that’s quite close to the team [in Oxfordshire] and quite close to Mark Webber. So it works out really well.

Your first GP2 test last week. You ended up the fastest of the new guys. How did it line up with your expectations?

Well, I was fortunate enough to test the car at the end of last year, which was incredible — just to get some mileage after the GP3 season. The car’s an absolute animal. It’s a beast. You’re going from 300 horsepower to 600 with the big V8 engine. It was just very, very refreshing to go into a new category, and a big step up. Obviously, it’s a step belowFormula 1, so to drive a car like that was quite incredible and very, very special.

At the moment I’m still trying to get the hang of it, I guess. These cars are technically very hard to drive, and also physically they’re not overly easy. Just getting to grips with that is going to take a while. Also, there’s a lot of other things to take into consideration, and the big thing at the moment is getting the Pirelli tyres working to your liking. And then you’re trying to hang onto the beast at the same time. So yeah, we’ve got three more days of testing next week in Barcelona that I’m feeling good for, and I can’t wait for the season to get underway.

You mention the physical aspect. Are you finding it a big difference in terms of how much strength you need?

Yeah, very much so. The cars don’t have any power steering, whereas Formula 1 cars do. If Formula 1 cars didn’t have power steering, the drivers wouldn’t be able to turn the steering wheel. Obviously, GP2 is a step down and not having power steering is pretty tough on the drivers. F1’s a lot harder on your neck with the corner speeds, but GP2 is all in the steering, especially in the high-speed corners. So we’ve got to bulk up a little bit — but then hopefully not too much — because the races are quite long as well.

For the full story, visit AskMen. Image credit: Daniel Kalisz.

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