Mitch Evans races to podium in Monte Carlo
Mitch Evans' love affair with the streets of Monte Carlo continued last night with a second place finish in the GP2 feature race at the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.
Kiwi Evans claimed two third places at this circuit last year and went one better with this effort, recording his first podium of the 2014 season to re-enter the drivers' championship.
The result earned Evans 18 invaluable points and lifts him to seventh on the championship after five of the 22 races.
The 19-year-old Evans started and finished strongly in an incident-filled race that featured two safety cars and a race suspension of more than 40 minutes following an accident on the 12th lap that saw Rene Binder tip his Arden team mate Andre Negrao into a spin at the famous hairpin and block the track.
That unexpected delay wrecked havoc with tyre strategy but Evans' used a solid plan to survive and thrive, pushing race winner Jolyon Palmer to the chequered flag.
The Briton won by just 0.427s to continue his strong start to the season that has featured podium efforts in all five races.
"The red flags turned everything upside down.'' Evans said.
''I was closing at the end there, but Jolyon has been flawless all weekend and deserves it. Jolyon was in a different world. I was just trying to save the fronts until the end of the race.
''There were parts of the race where Jolyon was stronger and others where we were stronger. It was quite a mess. To come away with a podium, I'm happy," Evans said, believing he could push in tomorrow's sprint race where he will start seventh.
"I think we can still make some improvements for tomorrow and for the rest of the championship.
''You know the race seems to be our weakest part at the moment.
''We can be quick, but we need to work on finding what needs to be fixed for the race distance.
"I'm very happy to be on the podium here. Hopefully we can do it again tomorrow from seventh. It will be very tough, but... the start will be crucial and then saving some tyres for the end of the race.
"Anything can happen. Last year, I managed to overtake a few people on lap one. Let's see if I can do that tomorrow. I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully we can get some points because we really need them."
Last night Evans managed to contain fast-finishing Brazilian Felipe Nasr to hold on to second place on the demanding street circuit.
"Great job for a very crazy race, well done," came the word over Evans' radio from his pit crew as they savoured their best result of what has been a difficult season.
Evans' skills have never been questioned and he used them to secure this result that was set up in qualifying where he claimed the No 2 position, so crucial on the tight track that offers few passing lanes.
Evans made a brilliant start to jump pole-winner Palmer.
He held on for 10 laps on rapidly deteriorating super-soft tyres before Palmer squeezed passed him with a clever move.
It all came down to strategy from there as they negotiated the race interruptions.
Both Palmer and Evans were helped by an accident to Stefano Coletti who certainly looked to have the pace to cause an upset before ending his race with his aggression taking himself and Simon Trummer out of the action late in the race that was reduced to 40 of the 42 scheduled laps because of the delays.
Coletti had survived a dangerous passing of Evans that put the Kiwi third before Coletti was stopped in dramatic fashion, nosing into a barrier at speed with Trummer at his side. Evans had no sympathy for him.
"To be honest I think he deserved what he got because it is such a stupid place to pass. He didn't even have to do that because Simon was out of the race ... to do that was silly," Evans said.
"I passed him after his crash with a smile on my face I must say. I thought that second place was gone you know. It was a big relief."