The valuable points earned promoted him into joint second in the championship overnight but unfortunately a non-points finish in today’s sprint race relegated him to fifth. However, the young New Zealander remains only nine points off new series leader, Oliver Rowland.
After qualifying a solid seventh in a session that was interrupted by two red flags, the Kiwi lined up on the grid in sixth after Sergey Sirotkin was sent to the back of the grid for missing the weighbridge. In a race where tyre strategy played a key role, Mitch was among the drivers who started on the harder tyre compound. Therefore, the emphasis was on conserving the tyres for most of the race before pitting for softer rubber in the closing laps.
Mitch lost a few positions at the start but quickly made up ground and was up to sixth by lap six after making decisive moves on the likes of Arthur Pic, Luca Ghiotto and Rowland. After Pierre Gasly pitted to switch to the harder tyre compound, Evans was fifth and soon found himself the meat in a Russian Time sandwich of Rafaelle Marciello and the fast-charging Artem Markelov. Markelov ultimately passed Evans and Marciello on lap 17 but Evans was able to redress the balance as tyre degradation started to play a major role.
Mitch passed Latife for fourth before pitting for soft tyres and was able to jump Jordan King in the pits after the Brit endured a slow pitstop. Evans emerged from the pits side by side with Norman Nato who had pitted a couple of laps earlier but the Frenchman had the momentum and was able to maintain position. Mitch was the quickest of those who had changed onto softs and set the fastest lap of the race on lap 25. His superior pace saw him pass Nato for sixth and he quickly closed down on the ART of Nobuharu Matsushita and the Trident of Ghiotto. On the penultimate lap, Evans passed Matsushita and then Ghiotto at Stowe to finish fourth and the highest runner who started on the hard compound. The race was won by Red Bull junior driver Pierre Gasly from Antonio Giovanazzi and Rowland, all of whom had picked the optimum option/prime tyre strategy.
Said Mitch afterwards, "We’ve still got a bit of work to do but the overall performance of the car was pretty good this weekend and we’re making progress. In qualifying, I did the usual two runs and improved to fifth on my second set of tyres. Unfortunately, the session was red-flagged and because I had done my qualifying laps, I didn’t go back out. Some of the others did though and improved so I got shuffled down to seventh which became sixth after a time penalty for Siroktin.
"I opted for a prime/option tyre strategy for the feature race as I was afraid about being stuck in traffic as was the case last year on option/prime. But, this was the first time here that the strategy didn’t work. I was too far behind the first three as the dirty air traffic hurt me a lot trying to get onto the podium. I had some good little battles and was certainly in the thick of the action.”
Mitch started today’s 21 lap race from sixth position but despite a good initial launch, he lost a couple of positions before pulling a great move around the outside of Giovinazzi at Brooklands on the opening lap. The Campos and Prema drivers spent much of the race in close proximity with Evans having to drive defensively before Giovinazzi was able to deploy DRS and pass Mitch at Luffield. Evans then had to watch in his mirrors for Marciello who was gaining ground and bringing with him, race one winner Gasly. The positions stabilized for a while but in the closing stages both Marciello and Gasly picked off Evans as he struggled on fading tyres. A heavy rain shower on the final lap saw Mitch take an off-track detour and he finished 13th.
"I really thought we had a good chance of a podium today but from early on, nothing really lit up. The car didn’t feel the same as yesterday and I was struggling in the high speed corners which around here (Silverstone) isn’t something you want! It was 10 degrees hotter yesterday and today’s cooler conditions affected our performance - some of the guys who were fast yesterday weren’t today and vice versa, it was all a bit odd. When I was battling with Gasly at the end, my front left tyre was down to the canvas and when it started to rain heavily on the last lap, I was history and slipped out of the points.”
Round six of the GP2 Series takes place at the Hungaroring, near Budapest on July 22/24.