The start of a new season is always an exciting one with the opportunity to build on lessons learnt over the previous one.
The chance to analyse what worked and what perhaps needs a little bit more optimization.
For Jaguar Racing and Mitch Evans, last season was could almost be described as like a game of football.
The first half saw plenty of impressive fightbacks into the points given some of the lowly grid positions he was starting from.
On the other hand, the second half, with his and the teams’ maiden win in Rome and other podiums came seemingly as a result of Nelson Piquet’s departure from the team.
However, testing and for Evans and Jaguar, it also meant the chance to rack up the miles away from prying eyes.
Evans told Just Electric at the team’s launch event: “Testing’s been going pretty good. [We are] sort of on schedule with the mileage and what we expected from the new car. It’s a completely new powertrain, starting from scratch in a lot of areas and taking what we could out of last year.
“I think the guys worked really hard on the powertrain so now it’s time to see what its capable of.”
Hindsight is also a brilliant thing in all sports, especially motorsport.
Sitting down at the end of a long season to work out what went well for a team and what could be improved is, after all, a key part of the post-season debrief.
Like many drivers, Evans also thought that there were things which could have been improved, saying: “I mean, there’s definitely some things we should have done better at. Consistency was one of them, we had a good start … bit of a drop in performance throughout, let’s say, the middle part of the championship, and then we sort of re-grouped and got back on track for Rome and that’s where I had my first win and since then we’ve been quite competitive!
“So, it would be nice to have that performance throughout the whole year, it could’ve been a different story but, you know, we’ve learnt a lot and as a team, we’ve definitely made the next jump and hopefully that jump will take us to the next level which, hopefully, is championships!”
The aforementioned win in Rome came under interesting circumstances as the team had recently replaced the inaugural series champion, Nelson Piquet with Alex Lynn.
The upswing in form for both Evans and the team was noticeable as he put up a title fight.
The win itself was fairly dramatic thanks to the pass which was made on DS Techeetah’s Andre Lotterer at a part of the circuit which would not normally be considered an overtaking spot.
Evans conceded that it wasn’t the safest overtake adding: “As for the pass, (that was) extremely risky! Would I do it again? I don’t know! Obviously, you can only do those sort of moves on people that you trust.
“That was not really the corner I was planning on doing it, that’s just the way it sort of fell and he gave me room. I mean, for that type of corner, we couldn’t really have given each other any more room so I managed to squeeze by. Then, after we got it done, it was a huge relief.
“It’s a great box to tick at a really crucial time. It gives us a lot of confidence, a lot of the team confidence and to be honest, that’s so important for the mind to make sure we’re doing the right thing so, a huge moment and hopefully we can have many more.”
Having been with the team from their first race in the series, Evans is now their lead driver in the series.
With having a teammate who was new to the series and had spent the last few years in GT racing with a considerable amount of success, Evans is relishing his new role as the lead driver saying: “From that side, it obviously feels good, it seems like the team trust me! Obviously, it comes with a lot of responsibility but it’s obviously what you want. You want to be, on a personal level, moving in the right direction and still evolving and growing and steering the team in the right direction so that’s been great.
“James is completely new to the formula. He’s done a lot of testing so he’ll be fine for mileage but the one-day format is quite hard to get your head around initially but his pace will be there. Once he gets a bit of experience, I think, and he’s a smart guy, he’ll work it out pretty quickly and I’ll try and fast-forward that and hopefully, it won’t take him too long to get his head around it and hopefully, there will be both of us at the front and competing and hopefully sharing the podium together.”
The fact that Evans and Calado knew each other and had raced each other previously was a bonus for the team.
After all, when a new driver arrives in the team, there can be differences and then both drivers end up falling-out, Senna and Prost being one of the most famous examples.
Evans though reckoned that it was all going smoothly between them and was looking forward to getting the ball rolling, saying: “So far, so good.
“To be honest, I only saw him for the first time since GP2, like, two days ago because we’ve not been testing on the same days so it’s been pretty crazy. I mean, we know each other relatively well, not really well so from a working relationship point of view, it’s going to work well. We’ve not got to that stage yet so I’m sure there’s not going to be any issues and hopefully we can just keep evolving the team in the right way.
“But, I’m excited to partner with him, I think we’re all excited to see what he’s capable of doing.”