Cassidy exceeded own expectations on Formula E debut
Following a successful stint in Japan that yielded titles in both Super Formula and SUPER GT, Cassidy has moved to Formula E this year with Audi customer Envision Virgin Racing.
Taking part in his very qualifying session in the all-electric category, the Kiwi took full advantage of a rapidly-evolving track in Group 4 to set the sixth fastest time, only two tenths off the pace of Mercedes’ Nyck de Vries.
This provisionally put him into superpole, but he was later found to have gained time under a FCY caused by the crashed Dragon Penske of Sergio Sette Camara – a ruling that was described as a “big f*** up* by Nico Muller, who was also demoted to rear of the grid for the same offence.
Later that weekend, Cassidy illustrated strong energy management skills, climbing from 10th on the grid to fifth in Race 2 before a number of crashes lower down the field brought the action to a premature halt.
The 26-year-old didn’t ultimately get to keep the result after being hit with a 24-second post-race penalty for speeding under FCY, but the pace he showed throughout the weekend left him encouraged for the rest of the season.
“Really, really happy – I felt definitely one of the strongest on track,” Cassidy said of his performance to Motorsport.com.
“Early on I could feel I was very very strong. At the end probably I thought I had the two Techeetah guys covered, the DS guys, Robin [Frijns] was coming back to me quite quickly [in terms of lap time]. Maybe that [overtaking him] was possible but probably on the edge. Yeah, pretty happy.
“I thought on Friday I was pretty good in qualifying. On Saturday I was a bit unlucky with some circumstances.
“[But] I can take a lot of confidence from Saturday knowing that I had the pace to be on the front row and be on the podium or the chance for the win.
“It’s probably more than what I expected from my first weekend. It just gives me a lot of confidence.”
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After losing his provisional top-six starting position in the first leg of the Diriyah E-Prix, Cassidy was unable to make much progress up the order from the back of the field, ending up 17th out of 19 classified finishers.
But the changes the Envision team made overnight transformed its fortunes, allowing Cassidy to provisionally finish fifth – before being demoted to 14th after the penalty – and teammate Frijns to take second behind race winner Sam Bird (Jaguar).
Cassidy explained: “I said to my guys ‘on Friday, I felt really strong for the package that we have. I felt like I executed the race pretty well yesterday, [but] didn’t have the speed’.
“And my reference was Robin and I rate him quite highly so my first FE race to be [up] there [with him], not trying to say I was stronger or anything but using him as the reference for the moment I felt really competitive with that. Just compared to the others we weren’t competitive.
“Full credit to the team, the guys basically worked all night. They really pushed through massive hours last night and we treated the situation very seriously and I’m really pleased with how the team turned around.
“Wasn’t probably a perfect day on my side of the garage because in the end as a customer team we don’t get any [private] testing. In a way it was a bit of a test session for my car today. It probably hurt in qualifying. Definitely felt like being front row material.
“But anyway to then put it together. The race was very encouraging and yes a very pleasant turnaround.”