After a hiatus prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the streets of Brooklyn will finally get to play host once more to the New York City E-Prix in Red Hook with a two-race slate on Saturday and Sunday.
The all-electric motorsport — cars that look similar to that of Formula 1 but with electric engines — returns to the United States drama building around the 2021 Formula E campaign. This weekend will be the 10th and 11th rounds of a 15-round season that has taken drivers across the globe; from Saudi Arabia to Italy, to the famed streets of Monaco.
“It’s incredible to be back in New York,” Mitch Evans of Jaguar Racing told amNewYork Metro on Thursday. “It’s one of my favorite cities in the world… It’s a huge market for Formula E and for Jaguar especially. It’s one of the biggest markets so it’s great to be back in the States.”
The 27-year-old Evans is now the elder statesman of a Jaguar team that has steadily risen up the rankings of Formula E — transforming from a 10th-place afterthought in the team standings during their inaugural season five years ago to one that is stalking the 2021 team championship. Jaguar is currently in third place, just four points back of first-place Mercedes.
“It’s been a pretty intense journey,” Evans said. “We started off as a team that was just making up the numbers, and we knew that. We had three months to design a powertrain… that was expected. We planned out a timeline of what we wanted to achieve per season and we sort of hit those every year… it’s time to reward them with some really good results.”
Much of Jaguar’s success is because of Evans’ maturation as one of the top drivers in Formula E. As a threat to the driver’s championship in each of the last two seasons, he currently is tied for third in the individual standings with 60 points and just two points off the second-place pace set by Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns.
He’s picked up points (top-10 finish) in six of nine races including a pair of third-place finishes in Rome — which also saw him take a point for the fastest lap — and Monaco. It’s even more impressive considering how qualifying has made it even more difficult for Evans to consistently put up big points this season.
“It’s around now you start looking at the championship to a degree,” Evans admitted. “I think it’s too early just because of Formula E’s qualifying format where you can have a lot of cars out of position… We’ve had some really tough races in qualifying out of position, being in Group 1 all the time.
“I think being in Group 1 is encouraging but it really ends your chances of winning races because you start toward the back. That’s just the way it was designed to try and penalize guys in the top six of the series.”
This isn’t unfamiliar territory, as he entered the final race of last season tied for fourth place in the driver’s standings and third in the ultimate round two years ago. He finished fifth and seventh respectively after zero-point showings in New York City two years ago and Berlin last year.
New York lays before him, a mixed bag of results that featured a second-place finish in the penultimate round two years ago, followed by a 17th-place finish to see him fall out of the top three of the driver’s standings.
“From a personal view, it’s been a mixed bag of results,” Evans said of New York. “I want to improve on that this weekend. We’re in a good place… We’re hoping to come here and pick up some silverware and champagne. That would be ideal.”
Especially with Berlin looming as the deciding two rounds of the season next month after a stop in London.
“We’ve been in the championship hunt and I want to be in a great position come Berlin,” Evans said. “I wouldn’t say I’m going with a conservative approach [in New York] because I need to score big points but you also don’t want to miss out on opportunities now, just because one or two points can change a lot in your positioning.
“The big focus for me is at least get a P2 or a first because that’s when you bank a lot of points and trying to get ahead in the championship.”
Race 1 from Red Hook on Saturday will be at 4:30 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network) with Race 2 following on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. (CBS).