until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

Evans's anger at 'f***er' Vergne and Jaguar's team orders

by Sam Smith
6 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

An irate Mitch Evans has slammed the decision not to penalise Jean-Eric Vergne after their two clashes during Formula E's first 2024 Diriyah E-Prix.

The first flashpoint between the two, who ran together at the start and were racing hard until the very last lap, came when Evans took an attack mode and rejoined into the path of the DS Penske-run car, resulting in minor contact and Evans narrowly avoiding the outer wall.

Feeling Vergne had been too robust, Evans told race engineer Josep Roca: "this f***er, he pushed me into the wall. That’s a f***ing penalty, come on guys!”

Evans then made a successful dummy move on Vergne into the same Turn 18 complex before trying the same on leader Jake Dennis on lap 13.

This time though it was unsuccessful and he effectively outbraked himself - having ended up off-line on the excessively dusty track - before falling back into the clutches of Vergne again.

Jaguar then deployed some choreography between Evans and team-mate Nick Cassidy with the aim of locking down third and fourth, a goal they were on schedule to achieve.

Then on the final lap, Evans made another move on an energy-poor Vergne to risk it all for second place.

Evans had a look to the inside but the DS Penske driver made a defensive move in that direction, unsettling Evans, who almost lost his Jaguar before again running wide.

That cost him positions to both current team-mate Cassidy and former team-mate Sam Bird.

“He f***ing moves under braking guys,” snapped Evans over the radio comms in reference to Vergne.

After the race Evans’ anger was undimmed, telling The Race incredulously "how he’s not got a penalty for that is ridiculous".

“I was alongside him and he obviously had the intention to leave me no space," Evans continued.

“But the fact that the stewards have done nothing about that is ridiculous, I think, and it sets a bad precedent because there’s clearly contact and I was alongside him.”

There was more scorn from Evans over their second incident, which he called “a double move [under braking] that really screwed me up".

“It was a high-risk overtake, but his double move meant I had to turn again and the car got sideways,” added Evans.

“You’re already on the limit, and then instead of maybe getting past him and staying, it forced me further deeper and I lost more positions.”

Jaguar team boss James Barclay told The Race that he felt Vergne’s move on Evans was “too far over the line” and that had Evans come out ahead of Vergne, he would have “closed up on [race winner] Jake [Dennis] and we’d have had a different race".

The Race understands that Barclay visited the stewards immediately, believing Vergne had made two defensive moves in the first flashpoint.

“It was noted but no further action was given by the stewards and while we respect that decision, my only question is as per the [drivers'] briefing drivers need to give each other room," he said.

"If you look at it, JEV didn’t give us any room, he hit Mitch and if Mitch had braked, he’d have he would have hit the rear of him and put him in the wall.”

Vergne was reasonably unmoved about it all, telling The Race that he felt Evans was also executing robust defensive moves.

“[Evans] did the same,” he said. "When I was behind him he was also moving quite late, just before braking.”

Evans and Cassidy split over Jaguar's choreography

Jaguar was forced into making several orchestrated position swaps during the race but Cassidy and Evans were split over the success of the team's race management.

Leaving both of his attack modes activations late and with a train of cars running flat-out behind him, Cassidy needed the aid of an Evans team order.

Evans obliged and allowed Cassidy through initially at Turn 18 to allow him clear air to complete his first attack mode, but Cassidy had previously lobbied his engineer Phil Ingram to “let me do one attack to help him rather than back [Evans] up".

Cassidy also said, while the orchestration was happening, “I can’t just drop two seconds guys!”

But largely he felt that the Jaguar choreography was a success.

Cassidy completed his two attack modes and kept ahead of Bird to place fourth before Evans's failed last-lap overtake handed him a podium.

And Cassidy, who had to fight radio problems during the race, was far happier than Evans's post-race.

“For the amount of communication issues we were having radio-wise, it was mega, I must say,” he told The Race.

“We give the codes every lap, and probably 80% of the codes had to be repeated or weren’t heard.

“So that was really hard to have those conversations not knowing if they could actually hear me or not. Maybe things were spoken about too much or were repeated but that’s just because we were having radio problems.

“Fair play for them, I think they managed it really well.”

Team boss Barclay felt the team orders process had been "largely positive".

“Nick had a really clever race going P7 to P3 so it was a really good team race at times with the two drivers in the team working together," he said.

“Given that JEV was backing the field up the job that we did and coordinating the drivers was the right thing to do. Nick did a fantastic job playing rear-gunner and respecting the decisions that were made.

“That was a good race considering how tense it can get. You can get it very wrong and end up going right down the order because a train had closed up behind that second, third and fourth battle.”

For Evans though there was clear frustration because of what he deemed to be a lack of communication from his side of the garage. However, he was also exasperated by some of the messages coming through.

“I was getting really frustrated because they were telling me to let him overtake cause he’d not done his attacks but not giving me any other information,” said Evans.

“It’s something we need to discuss now cause for me the strategy was off on my side today.

“Not even just around [the orchestration with Cassidy], just even around the initial phase of the attack modes.”

Evans went as far as to suggest that he had a shot at winning the race had the incidents with Vergne not occurred and the apparent communication issues not hit.

“We had a good shot of winning today, and it was all about playing a chess match with the other two guys,” he said.

“Jake and Andretti played it perfectly and that could have been us if we’d played it right. So, it’s something for us to look into.

“With Nick I was playing my part, I let him pass so he could get the attacks in and that all worked out well, but I definitely wasn’t being helped at all. Again, the radios were pretty bad so I’m not sure if it was just information not getting to me.

“I just didn’t have a full picture of what the situation was at all.”

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