Despite being born with racing in his blood (both his father and his grandfather were drivers) New Zealander Mitch Evans is carving his own path on the world stage as one of the most talented names in Formula E, driving for the prestigious marque Jaguar. From his killer instinct on the track to his dedication off it, Evans is determined to reach the pinnacle of his profession and is fast becoming one of our most notable sporting exports. And while he was the runner up World Champion last year (his sights are firmly set on achieving the top spot this season) and has an ever-growing list of racing accolades to his name, Evans has also been venturing into other fields. Recently, the sportsman unveiled a partnership with luxury fashion house Dadelszen (both as ambassador and investor) that will see him showcasing the New Zealand-based brand on the world stage like never before. Here, we sit down with Evans to talk about racing cars, a winning mindset and where fashion fits into the life of a driver.
Mitch Evans began driving cars at the tender age of four, his older brother’s go kart the starting point of what would eventually become an enviable professional career. Since that point, Evans has enjoyed a steady upward trajectory, propelled by prominent wins both here and in Australia as a teenager (he was the youngest driver ever to win an International Grand Prix at just 16 years old, when he took out the 2011 New Zealand Grand Prix) which culminated in an offer to join Jaguar’s prestigious Formula E race team in 2016. Because despite the fact that Evans is still only 28 years old, racing has been his singular focus for over two decades, and he has no plans of slowing down anytime soon.
“I really started taking it [racing] seriously from about the age of six,” Evans tells me, explaining how quickly he moved from go karts to open wheel racing in his early teens, gaining the kind of support and sponsorship through his victories that would lead to his decision to leave high school and head overseas. “It was the biggest and hardest step to make,” he explains, “and it was a huge commitment… but there were so many people who supported me to get there.” Initially, Evans’ goal was Formula One. (After all, you don’t have to be an avid car racing fan to understand the importance of that particular competition.) But after a few years of successful racing for teams on the GP3 and then GP2 circuits, and coming close to a Formula One debut, circumstances changed in what ended up being a very fortuitous way, and Evans was approached by JaguarTCS Racing to represent the heritage marque in Formula E — a partnership that continues to this day.
For anyone unfamiliar, Formula E (in which every car is powered by an electric engine) is comparable to Formula One in its competitiveness, its adrenaline-pumping tracks and its highly-skilled drivers who race best-in-class machines fitted with the most advanced tech in the world (and face huge amounts of pressure in the process). But where Formula One is often characterised by politics and by the eye-watering funding behind certain teams and their cars (a fact that usually gives those with more money an advantage on the track), Formula E offers an even playing field, thanks to regulations that leave all of the cars with similar specifications. This also makes it more competitive across the board. “There is a misconception that all drivers who can’t make it to Formula One just go to Formula E as a default,” Evans explains, “but that’s just not true. There is a lot of politics in F1 and while there are a number of incredible drivers, there are definitely some who shouldn’t be there. In terms of drivers,” he continues, “the Formula E grid is stronger on average, so the competition is tougher.” Indeed, with no shortage of skilled practitioners willing to take the Formula E wheel, the races on this circuit are fiercely fought, which makes taking the top spot a difficult task. (Difficult, but not impossible.)
“I’m very hungry to win, that’s what motivates me,” Evans emphasises. “Because when you stand on that top step and listen to the New Zealand anthem, there’s honestly no better feeling… winning championships is the most addictive drug there is.” This kind of singular focus is what has pushed Evans to the top of his Formula E cohort. The potent, powerful combination of sharp instinct, natural ability, self confidence and a focus on maintaining the right mindset has seen him move from good to great in a relatively short amount of time, and has put the title of ‘World Champion’ well within his sights. In his Formula E career to date, Evans has six prominent ePrix wins under his belt, 18 podium finishes and a very close second overall in 2022 with 180 points (only 33 points behind the world champion). What he has achieved as a sportsman working at the top of one of the most competitive fields in the world is remarkable and speaks to his drive in more ways than one.
But while Evans is undeniably talented, his success has been built (and sustained) on far more than the skills he discovered he had as a young boy. “Beyond talent and passion,” he says, “it’s just pure self-belief. That’s extremely powerful for the way it makes you see yourself in a different light, and in high-level sport where you have more bad days than good, the difference between athletes that make it and those that don’t is the ability to continue backing yourself, even when things aren’t going well.”
This idea has also materialised in Evans’ training. “When I was growing up and honing my craft, my focus was all on physical conditioning,” he says, “but now, my body has adapted to the forces of the car and the demands of the racing, so my focus has really turned to mindset over anything else.” This is familiar territory for anyone operating at an elite level across every sport (but particularly for those in which the pressure falls entirely on their shoulders alone). “The hardest thing as an athlete is dealing with certain things that can creep into your mind,” Evans explains, “but to be able to operate at the top, top level, you need to find the place where those things don’t affect you.” And in a sport where race-ending conditions can be completely out of the driver’s hands, this seems a necessary tool to maintain motivation and continue moving forward unscathed.
On the day that we spoke, Evans has just returned home to Monaco from South Africa, where he had competed in the Cape Town ePrix. I ask him how the season is going so far. “Frustrating,” he replies, chuckling. “My last few races I was in contention to win but because of a few technicalities and software issues, I didn’t.” He pauses, “my saving grace is that I’ve been really fast… I’ve got the best qualifying average of the whole field this year so I’ve been starting really well… I just have to stay positive, my luck will turn.”
“…when you stand on that top step and listen to the New Zealand anthem, there’s honestly no better feeling… winning championships is the most addictive drug there is…”
Outside of racing, Evans has set his sights on something else entirely, recently unveiling an exciting new partnership with New Zealand-based luxury fashion brand, Dadelszen. Not only is the driver Dadelszen’s newest global ambassador, but through his own investment company, Evans has bought a stake in the business too, a vote of confidence in Dadleszen’s unique vision and coveted offering.
“The first moment I stepped into the Dadelszen showroom in Parnell, I fell in love with the brand,” Evans ventures, explaining how he was a dedicated customer first (“I would get so many compliments on my favourite Dadelszen leather jacket”) before the idea was proposed that he take on a more official role in the business. “I love fashion,” he tells me, “and I just think that what Dadelszen is doing in New Zealand is really special… there is so much potential for the brand so it’s a real honour for me to be representing
them around the world.”
Alongside Evans wearing the brand at his international competitions and for press events, this partnership will see the two embark on a number of brand experiences and activations in Monaco and beyond, aimed at taking Dadelszen’s singular vision of luxury to a more international market. There is also, I am told, a collaboration in the pipeline, with Dadelszen’s Founder, Edward von Dadelszen revealing that they had been “developing a very exciting capsule collection… drawing on the rich history of racing style and using some beautiful materials that reflect the sport’s prestige.” And from the early prototypes we’ve seen, it looks very chic indeed. “Mitch and I are both dogged in our pursuits of international relevance,” von Dadelszen continues. “I don’t feel satisfied very easily and neither does Mitch, so alongside constantly pushing ourselves to be the best we can be, we share a belief that New Zealanders can do things that are absolutely world-class.” (Watch this space.)
Mitch’s Dadelszen Edit
As seen by his longstanding tenure with Jaguar, Evans takes his partnerships seriously, telling me how it was not only his immediate friendship with von Dadelszen that prompted his involvement in the brand, but their shared values, their clear vision, and the fact that the right people were at the helm to continue driving the business forward. “Quite a few factors came into it,” he explains, “and while it was important for me to understand the business, it was also about going with my gut instinct, and ultimately trusting that.”
Indeed, as considered as Evans is, much of what he does seems to come from an instinctual place, a quality that has likely been honed by the demands of his profession. (Split-second calls are, after all, one of the most important skills in a professional driver’s toolkit.) Now, having staked his claim in not only one of the most competitive circuits in the world, but one of the most progressive too, Evans is poised to take the world by storm. “My next goal is to win the Formula E World Championship,” he says confidently, “ and then, just take things as they come.” Only time will tell what Evans is able to achieve next, but if we know one thing for certain, it won’t take him long to get there.