Mixed weekend for Evans at the Red Bull Ring in Austria

‘It was the first time for me there and I really enjoyed driving the track. We got into it quite quickly in practice and were competitive straight away,’ said Evans who finished sixth in the wet practice session. 

In Friday afternoon’s qualifying, the Russian Time driver struggled to get up to speed with the tyres: ‘We couldn’t get our car to work better on the option (softer) tyre and we lost a bit of performance there. It took me too many laps to get the tyres into the working window and by the end I had a lot of traffic. I couldn’t gain any momentum and with only two clean laps we weren’t quick enough and qualified eighth.’

Evans got off to a flying start from P8 in Saturday’s feature race, challenging for third into turn one with Palmer and Coletti. However, after minor contact with Palmer, Evans had to settle for fifth on the run down to turn two. With half the field opting to start on the harder prime tyres and the others starting on the soft tyres, the feature race was driven by tyre strategy.

‘We made some changes to the car from qualifying. I made a good start, was going for P3 and then got squeezed and lost a few positions out of turn one. Then it was a matter of the strategy. I started on the primes and it’s worked for us in the past but I don’t think it worked that well at this track. The guys who started on the softer tyres didn’t suffer as much as we would have liked and ultimately this is why the other strategy worked better than ours.’

After coming in for fresh tyres on lap 28, Mitch managed to get ahead of Rossi on lap 35 eventually finishing the race in seventh. Evans started Sunday’s sprint race from the front row in second, however a poor start saw him fall back through the pack: ‘My starts have been good all year, except for today. I had a very bad start, releasing the clutch too quickly and then the anti-stall kicked in so I had to engage the clutch again and as a result of that I lost many positions.’

Despite the poor getaway, Evans managed to drive back through the field into fourth and in the last few laps of the race, he closed the gap to Raffaele Marciello in third, challenging him twice on the run down to turn three over the final two laps.

‘Our pace seemed quite good and I was closing down Marciello. It was looking very good, I had a few nibbles at him, one big one in the last lap which unfortunately I didn’t pull off, so he got me back and I had to settle for fourth. I was really disappointed because I missed a great opportunity today to be on the podium. Our pace was good enough to win but it didn’t help with me making a meal of the start.’

‘Of course you always want more, it wasn’t a disaster today and at least we got a few more points. We’ve got a lot of positives to take away from the weekend. It’s been a great atmosphere here, Red Bull put on a cool show, it’s been the best weekend so far in terms of the entertainment and I’m now looking ahead to racing in Silverstone in two weeks time.’ Mitch has moved further up the rankings into 8th position with 38 points.

Round 5 takes place in Silverstone on July 5/6.