With a third place finish and a victory from the previous race in Bahrain a week ago, New Zealander Mitch Evans was pumped up for the season finale at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, where he was still in with a chance of grabbing a third place finish in the 2015 GP2 Championship.
Friday morning’s practice session was cooler than usual and Evans put his Russian Time car in sixth place. On his first attempt in qualifying later in the day, Mitch made a mistake at turn 8 and locked up but he managed a good time on his second lap to qualify third, only 0.245 behind pole sitter Pierre Gasly.
In the feature race on Saturday, Mitch started on the option tyres and got a good start off the line. Gasly in front of him started to struggle early on with his tyres and Stoffel Vandorne and Mitch got past him on lap 3. The Aucklander came into the box as soon as the pits opened but lost a few seconds when he couldn’t be released due to other cars pitting at the same time. Halfway through the race, Gasly was closing in on Mitch who had to keep pushing hard but the Frenchman couldn’t hold the pace and dropped off. In the final laps of the race Alexander Rossi was on Mitch’s heels eying up the final spot on the podium, but the Kiwi managed to fend him off and drove home third place.
"We had a good pace today and the race was pretty smooth,” said Mitch. "We lost five or six seconds when the team couldn’t release me because there were cars coming in and we lost a lot of ground to Stoffel which was a shame, but I think it was a pretty good result for us. I scored big points and I have a chance to fight for third in the standings tomorrow with Rio starting second. He’s in a good position, but I will do all I can to try and beat him for the position.”
The sprint race on Sunday was red-flagged after Gasly spun on the first lap, causing a big pile up involving several cars. After a 40-minute break during which the crashed cars were recovered and the damage inspected, the race was called off due to substantial damage to the barriers bringing the season to an unexpected finish and anti-climax for the competitors.
"I’m really disappointed we couldn’t race today and that I didn’t get a shot at third in the standings which I think was really possible. We had a lot of ups and downs this season with a lot of lows early in the year. The car performance and reliability wasn’t great and I’ve gone through some testing times. Fortunately we were able to turn things around, improved the performance to compete at the front again and the last four rounds were good and showed what we are capable of. After having such a good run not being able to fight for a good result today puts a bit of a damper on the end of the season.”
Mitch finished the 2015 GP2 season in fifth place with 135 points.