Mitch Evans is ready for his GP2 debut
Championship returns to Sky Sports F1 this weekend
By William Esler. Last Updated: 17/09/13 1:17pm
The GP2 Series returns to Sky Sports F1 this weekend with the first two races of the 2013 season at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia.
11 of the 22 drivers who will take the start in Sunday's Grand Prix honed their skills in the category, meaning this is the perfect place to get an early glimpse of future F1 stars.
One driver who will be making the step up to GP2 this weekend is New Zealander Mitch Evans who won the GP3 title in 2012 and Sky Sports F1 Online caught up with him before his debut.
"I'm feeling reasonably good - I've prepared really well over the off season physically anyway," an excited Evans said.
"As for the driving part, it is going to be a new challenge for me and I am not really expecting to be at the front - I am hoping to be at the front, but equally I am hoping not be at the back - I just don't know where I am going to be. I am just going to give it my best shot - yes it is tough being a rookie - but all I can do is give it my best."
One of the biggest challenges facing a driver making the graduation to GP2 is the difference in power levels compared to the turbo charged GP3 car (which has been replaced by a more powerful car in 2013). However, after six days of pre-season testing at Jerez and Barcelona Evans says he is now starting to feel comfortable in his new office.
"I was fortunate enough to drive a GP2 car at the end of last year and I realised how big of a jump it was going to be," he said.
"It is a big step up in power, but overall it is just another step up and another step closer to Formula 1. After six days of testing I felt like I am at home with it just like I was with the GP3 car. It does take some time to build up the confidence and find the limits when you first jump into a GP2 car but I feel as if I am nearly there and with more time in the car, I am just going to get stronger."
Having clinched the GP3 title with MW Arden, Evans will remain with Christian Horner's team for his graduation to GP2, something he feels has made the step easier.
"It has definitely made things easier because I know the team, so from that side of things it has made it a lot smoother," the Kiwi added.
"We did have other options with other teams and I tested for another team last year, but I am happy to be where I am. It makes sense to stay with Arden for my first year in GP2 until I get the hang of it."
Mitch Evans celebrates his GP3 title at Monza
The 18-year-old took the GP3 title in a scenario that would not have looked out of place in a Hollywood blockbuster. Evans headed to Monza leading the Championship and duly qualified on pole, but it all went wrong at turn 1 when he was forced across the inside of the chicane and broke his steering, forcing him out of the race. That coupled with a victory for Daniel Abt meant the title came down to the final race.
The Kiwi started plum last in 25th and worked his way into the points, setting fastest lap along the before a puncture forced him back to limp back to the pits. With Abt leading, the title seemed destined to go to the German until Tio Ellinas edged ahead with two laps to go, meaning Evans won the title by just two points.
"Everything was going through my mind and I can tell you now it wasn't pretty," the Arden driver said.
"The emotional rollercoaster that I had to go through was pretty horrible and quite incredible. We came through the field and I unfortunately got hit as I was passing for seventh - the TV footage doesn't show it but I do get hit going down the main straight and my right rear got cut. By the time I got to the second chicane the car was basically undriveable and the car was going all over the place which looked pretty bad.
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"So that was heart-breaking as I had worked my way up to seventh and had taken the points for fastest lap as well and it was all looking good and then that happened and I was thinking 'this cannot be happening right now!' Fortunately Tio saved the day for me when he passed Daniel - he was a bit of a life saver."
That experience seems to have help Evans mature as a driver, something that shows when he is asked about when he sees himself in F1.
"In a perfect world two years," he said. "I would use this year as a learning year and then come back stronger and challenge for the Championship and hopefully win it - that is how I did it in GP3.
"But you never know, I might have an amazing year and be in F1 next year, or it could be three years, or I could blow and it might never happen."