Evans heads Campos Racing 1-2 in Austria

In Sunday’s sprint race, the New Zealander picked up a solitary point following a battling drive and came away from round 4 lying second in the Drivers’ Championship; ten points behind Raffaele Marciello.

Starting the feature race in 10th and on the option tyres, Mitch lost a few positions off the line but soon recovered to 12th. On lap 12, he became the first driver to pit switching from the super-softs onto softs. Rain started to fall within a few laps later but crucially it was only on half the track meaning that Mitch was among the drivers who opted to stay out on slicks. With the rain getting heavier, race leader Pierre Gasly spun and the safety car was deployed. This prompted a host of drivers to pit and after the restart, Evans took advantage of having fresher tyres to climb up to seventh. The safety car was activated again after Marvin Kirhhofer spun and stalled his car at turn three. This led to the front runners all pitting for super-softs and promoted Mitch into the lead ahead of his team-mate Sean Gelael. The red flag was then brought out after pre-race championship leader Artem Markelov slammed into the barrier at the pit exit. When the race resumed with eight laps remaining, Mitch made a strong restart and put in a string of successive fastest laps to pull away from the chasing pack. He took the chequered flag ahead of Gelael with Russian Time driver Marciello completing the podium.

Following his surprise victory, Mitch said, "It was a really bizarre race. I dropped a few places as I started on the option tyre - I knew I had to keep calm so I could make a good stint and then go onto the prime tyres and try to recover some of the lost ground from the start. The car felt pretty strong on the prime but when it started to train, I thought it was going to be a complete disaster as I thought we were going to have to do two pit stops. Fortunately, it only rained on half of the track which saved us. Sean and I were massively fast compared to the others in those conditions. After the safety car and the red flag, I was theoretically P1. I just wanted to get a good restart and bring the cars home 1-2.
"A win in any season is always special and especially this first one with Pertamina Campos Racing. To get a 1-2 is incredible for the whole team and our sponsors. I hope our dark days are now over. We are here to win and unfortunately we haven’t been in a place to win. It’s hard to be consistent in this series but hopefully it’s a turning point for the rest of the year.”

In the sprint race Mitch finished eight, snatching the final point of the race after Trident driver Luca Ghiotta spun on the final corner. A wet track meant that the first three laps were run under the safety car and when the race went green, Mitch slipped to 10th. He was quickly back up to 8th though after contact between Arthur Pic and Gelael. The safety car was deployed for one lap and on the restart, Evans overtook Jimmy Eriksson for seventh. At the front, Racing Engineering driver Jordan King led from his team-mate Norman Nato but the Frenchman was struggling in the wet and quickly dropped down the order to sixth and into the clutches of Evans. The pair raced side by side for most of lap 13 with Evans ultimately taking sixth but a flying Alex Lynn overtook both soon after.

Three laps later Evans overtook Nichola Latifi after managing to hold off a strong challenge from Sergey Siroktin and Gasly. With seven laps remaining the safety car was back out following Latifi’s spin at turn one. Within a lap of the re-start, Sirotkin passed Evans for seventh. In the closing laps and with the track almost dry, Evans was one of those struggling for grip and was passed by Antonio Giovinazzi and Gasly to drop outside the points but Ghiotta’s spin on the final corner handed the Campos driver the final point. The race was won by King ahead of Oliver Rowland and Lynn making it an all British podium.

After the race, Mitch said, "I lost a couple of positions at the start but the car generally felt okay. I managed to get as high as sixth but the left-front tyre was starting to grain and this got worse as the track dried. I was never really in an attacking situation, I just wanted to maintain position. I was in 7th and holding a good gap to the guys behind but then the safety car came out. On the restart, I was struggling in the slow corners and a few managed to overtake me but it was nice take the final point.”