YOUNG New Zealand motorcar driver Mitch Evans says staying solo will help him achieve his Formula One dream.
Fresh off winning the GP3 title, Evans heads to Europe next week for a series of test drives in GP2 cars he wants to race next season.
GP2 is one level below F1, and getting a drive, and doing well, will be crucial to his long term future.
Rather than joining a F1 stable, the 18-year-old is happy to work his way to the top with his own management and backers, most of whom are Kiwis led by motorsport fan Sir Colin Giltrap.
“Being an individual can be beneficial long-term,” he told Fairfax NZ.
“I think strategically you’re better on your own, getting results. Ultimately it will give you more options when you’re knocking on the door of Formula One rather than being tied to one team.”
To earn to GP2 drive however, he needs to secure $3 million in funding, the biggest hurdle to overcome.
“It’s all about funding and I’ll come back after testing to get the budget.”
Giltrap thought they were about two-thirds of the way there, and getting the rest was achievable “with a little bit of luck and the wind blowing the right way”.
French Lotus F1 team principal Eric Boullier was putting his own cash into Evans, a reflection of his ability and potential.
“He’s put money in just because he believes in Mitch. Most of the major teams have got their eye on Mitch already.”
Giltrap wanted to see a return to New Zealand’s glory days of F1, and said Evans had the talent to offset the huge budgets some South American drivers had.
“He is so good … he’s a point of difference.”
He will test with Arden in Spain twice, with whom he raced under the Mark Webber team at Gp3 level.
Top team DAMS are also keen.
Australian F1 driver Webber mentors Evans, and his connections at Red Bull could be crucial.
For now, Evans is focussed on his driving, getting used to the four-litre V8 engines, which are about 50kmh quicker than the lower class, and much more physically demanding.
“They can be brutal … very physically demanding on your neck and arms. I’m going to be doing a lot of laps in testing but I’ve got no worries about my fitness,” Evans said.