20/12/2017

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Mitch Evans

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Talented Kiwi driver Mitch Evans says his entire motor racing focus is on improving his performances in Formula E - the globe-trotting series that races electric single seater cars.

Home for a short break before heading back overseas to continue racing in the 2017-2018 series, he says he is very happy concentrating on further developing the special skills required to race an electric car.

"Right now nothing else interests me," he says.

"I find it very challenging. When I first started racing in Formula E I found the lack of engine noise a bit unusual - but now it's just normal. And the racing is highly technical and mentally very stressful, because you are required to drive at race pace but conserve battery energy all at the same time."

The opening racing of the new season was held in Hong Kong in early December, where Evans recorded fastest time during qualifying in his Panasonic Jaguar Racing racer, and then scored the team's first podium result when he finished third in the second race of a double-header.

Early in the new year, he heads back to team headquarters in London to continue race training using a simulator, before travelling to Morocco for the next round which will raced at Marrakesh on January 13.

All but one race event - at Mexico City - are being held on inner-city street circuits, because Formula E organisers say the city is the natural home of the electric vehicle.

Mitch Evans says this adds to the excitement of the occasion. Racing flat-tack around the streets of many of the world's most iconic cities, with skyscrapers towering above, is a brilliant sensation.

The circuits are short, with the optimal length around 2.5km, and most of them are tight.

Under current race rules every driver must drive two cars - stopping halfway through each race and climbing into the second car which has a fully-charged battery.

And that's where the highly technical aspect of the racing kicks in - because neither racer has sufficient battery storage to last half the race if driven at its hardest at all times.

"If we drove flat out all the time, each car wouldn't do much more than half its required distance," says Evans. "So we have to harvest energy by doing such things as coasting and braking.

"During racing I'm constantly being given energy figures by my team. The idea is to consume enough energy per lap so that you cross the finish line with no battery power remaining. When that happens you know you've timed things just right."

A special feature of Formula E is that fans can use social media to vote for their favourite drivers in a process known as FanBoost - which makes it the only sport in the world in which spectators can potentially influence a result.

During each race FanBoost awards the three drivers with the most votes 20 kilowatts extra race power for five seconds while they are driving their second car.

The reason for the system is to get fans involved, but Evans says the boost of power hasn't yet influenced a race result.

"And I've never been given a FanBoost - but I am looking forward to it happening," he adds.

Under the current Formula E regulations the batteries are supplied by Williams. Next year they will be supplied by McLaren, and these next-generation versions will have sufficient energy to allow one race car to go the entire distance - if good energy management can be maintained.

"So next season the racing will get even better," says Evans.

"But for this season we're just concentrating on improving on last season. Last year was tough for Panasonic Jaguar Racing, because our cars weren't quite optimised for the racing. But this year things are much better and we're a lot more competitive."

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