Mitch Evans has admitted that the collapse of Jaguar’s promising Formula E title bid at the Berlin finale hurt for weeks afterwards.
Formula E teams are currently gearing up for the 2021 season, with the official test at Valencia taking place at the end of this month and Evans being joined in the Jaguar line-up by high-profile new signing Sam Bird.
Evans says the frustration and disappointment of the final races of the 2019/20 campaign give an extra thrust to Jaguar’s preparations.
“We sort of handed it to da Costa and Techeetah” :: Mitch Evans
He went into the six-race Berlin residency just 11 points behind championship leader Antonio Felix da Costa.
But while da Costa scored 91 points over that week, Evans took just 12 and tumbled from second to seventh in the championship.
Evans told The Race that it took him “a few weeks” to get over the disappointment in Germany and that “emotionally for us as a team, personally as well, it was a real disappointment, it really hurt.”
He added: “I’ve not felt that hurt for a long time.
“When you see something so close… but every race, it just seemed to drift away. We sort of handed it to da Costa and Techeetah.”
Evans acknowledged the run of difficult races in Berlin tested Jaguar team’s mettle. But he thinks it’s had a positive impact on the team and reinforced its focus as it began reliability and performance testing ahead of homologation of its new model – the Jaguar I-Type5.
“I think even the final result doesn’t really show what we achieved last season,” said Evans.
“We left there with our tail between our legs and we were just super-disappointed. But obviously that’s really fired up everyone for the season.
“In that circumstance during Berlin, it can go either way internally in a team, you can start breaking down, blaming each other pointing fingers and all that. But it was just the complete opposite. We pulled together.
“Obviously, we’re trying to find answers and I think a lot of the answers we were trying to find were obviously a bit unrealistic because of the qualifying situation.”
Evans suffered more than most in not being able to extract qualifying performances from the quirky track conditions and specific surface at Tempelhof.
Although he managed to place second in Group 1 of qualifying for the first Berlin round, he was a huge 0.4s away from da Costa – who extracted one of the great Formula E qualifying performances to destroy his competitors by going on to secure pole by 0.3s from team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne.
Evans’ ninth place start in the first Berlin race was to be his best.
While it was Stoffel Vandoorne who clocked the most passing moves than anyone over the six Berlin races, Evans was indeed a close second. His season ended with a frustrating 11th in the final round despite a tenacious drive through the field from a 23rd-position start.
“I’ve got full confidence in the team around me to make those little mistakes not happen anymore” :: Mitch Evans
Irrespective of the Berlin frustrations, Evans also had to deal with several team errors last season, notably in Santiago, when several technical problems probably cost him victory, and in Marrakesh, when his team miscalculated getting his qualifying lap in before the end of his allocated track time.
The scope for potential mistakes in Formula E is massive due to the combination of time pressure, lack of track time and teams juggling several crucial communications to drivers who are negotiating hostile environments of temporary be-walled street tracks.
But the fact remains that the two key errors in Chile and Morocco could possibly have cost Evans 27 points, which in any normally run season would probably be a title defining loss.
“What happened in Marrakesh was obviously embarrassing,” says Evans.
“But throughout the whole team, everyone’s going to the next level and obviously ironing out anything that potentially could happen or has happened in the past.
“You’re always going have slight issues in the season, that’s just the way it is and we are all human at the end of the day. But minimising those are going to be extremely critical to obviously win the championship.
“I’ve got full confidence in the team around me to make those little mistakes not happen anymore.”