Evans on podium in GP2 debut in Malaysia

The 18-year-old New Zealander started the 22-lap ‘reverse top eight’ sprint race at the Kuala Lumpur circuit from tenth on the grid and was up to fourth by the end of an eventful first lap,

"How was that?” exclaimed the youngest driver in the field as he headed for the Sepang podium. The teenage rookie is the youngest driver t

o stand on the GP2 podium since the International series began nine years ago.

 "I just had my head down all during the race, but I kept telling myself – get to the end, get to the end.”

"I was trying to save the tyres because you don’t pit for a change during the sprint race. I was hoping the performance wouldn’t drop off.”

Evans narrowly avoided a first lap crash and then concentrated on his own fine debut performance. Fabio Leimer and James Calado had finished first and second in the Saturday feature race but tangled on the opening lap, while Sam Bird lost fourth place soon after the start.

The winner was Stefano Coletti from Monaco and Brazilian Felipe Nasr was a fighting second.

Evans shadowed third-placed Stephane Richelmi for 15 laps before his pressure finally paid off with six laps to the finish. Richelmi ran wide and Evans slipped through into third.

"I’d saved my tyres to have a crack at him. I could see he was struggling and then he made a little mistake and I was through.”

"The car was a lot better than it was in the Saturday race; my Arden team did a great job. I got an awesome start, almost got taken out by Calado, but came through to pass Richelmi. Happy days,” beamed Evans.

Evans finished the 45 minute race just 7.5 seconds behind the more experienced leading pair. After a post race enquiry into the first lap clash Calado has been penalised 10 grid places at the next GP2 race in Bahrain.

Evans, the 2012 GP3 Champion had been suffering food poisoning all weekend and was under medical care throughout Friday. In spite of his ailment, Evans was fourth fastest during the 30 minute practice on Friday and then qualified an impressive sixth for the Saturday Feature race grid.

He actually started the one hour race fifth, after Bird was penalised over an incident during qualifying that also involved Cecotto. Evans completed his opening lap in GP2 on Saturday in third place in the 26-car International field but fell back with increasing understeer that destroyed his front tyres. After an early pit stop he finished in tenth place to score a single championship point.

In 2011 Mitch Evans won his third ever GP3 race at the Spanish GP in Barcelona.

After two races in the 11 round, 22 race series, Evans is sixth overall in the championship standings. His next outing in GP2 is at the Bahrain Formula 1 race in four weeks.