Mitch Evans’ drop from third to fifth on the final lap of the Diriyah E-Prix was an obvious disappointment, but aside from the missed podium, the Jaguar TCS Racing driver felt like even more had been possible.
Evans was engaged in a race-long battle with DS Penske’s Jean-Eric Vergne, with both ultimately being beaten by Andretti Formula E’s Jake Dennis. While Dennis eventually won by over 13 seconds, Evans felt that he could have matched the reigning champion.
“Performance was strong but I’m standing here with a fifth place, which is annoying,” he said. “I think we could have won today if things played out differently around the attacks. I think we could have done that better. Full credit to Jake and his team, they played it really well.”
Vergne boxed off Evans at the start of the race in what was the first of a number of close encounters between the pair. Their coming together at the Attack Zone merge on lap four left Evans’ frustrated at a lack of action from the race stewards.
“A few random parts of the race, like the rejoin with JEV — he just drove me into the wall — not even looked into by the stewards, which I think is pretty bad,” he said. “And then on top of that, I made a mistake when I was defending from him, which is frustrating and obviously gave him the position.”
As for the final lap where Evans ran deep while attempting to pass Vergne, Evans suggests that Vergne was at fault in that encounter, too.
“I felt good to get him back on that last lap but he made a double move defending me and the car snapped on me and made me run quite a bit wider, so I lost more positions,” he said. “I may have made the move stick but if anything, he just would have passed me back. The double move, I thought, was really average; but again, will the stewards look at it? Probably not.”
Feeling that today was a missed opportunity to win, Evans says another shot on Saturday is “realistic,” but admits it won’t be as simple as turning up and repeating the same strong points from today, especially with the shorter distance for the second race of the weekend.
“The track will evolve — we need to keep up to speed with that with the car setup,” he said. “We’ve got to qualify well — the race is a lap less tomorrow so the race will be even faster. Track position will be key.”