Saturday, July 20, 2024

Consistency is the Key: How Nick Cassidy Became Formula E’s New Title Favourite

There is absolutely no doubting that Nick Cassidy is the man of the moment in the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, following his stunning victory at the Monaco E-Prix. His win at the legendary Circuit de Monaco was not only emphatic but a sign of a driver who is now the title favourite, and comfortably so.

The images of Cassidy climbing out of the cockpit in Monaco, before standing on top of his Jaguar I-TYPE 6 will be replayed over and over again, with it being a power shot of how things have turned so dramatically for the Envision Racing driver this season. If recent Formula E history repeats itself then Cassidy will be the first ever Gen3 Formula E World Champion, with reigning World Champion Stoffel Vandoorne having won at the Principality last season before claiming his crown.

Credit: LAT Images courtesy of FIA Formula E

Cassidy’s performance in Monaco was the epitome of what is required to be a World Champion, with the Kiwi having timed his charge to the front to absolute perfection. For the second race in a row, the Envision driver demonstrated a stunning understanding of knowing when to hit the front, with it almost appearing like he’s figured out the formula to being an FE winner this season.

The racing this season has been like nothing ever seen before in FE, with the drivers having completed the first half of the races this year whilst lapping several seconds slower than usual, in a bid to preserve energy. Almost like in the Tour de France, the lead has been constantly changing at near enough every corner, in an attempt to sit in the slipstream of the driver ahead.

It’s caused excitement, hundreds of overtakes and more often than not this season complete carnage, but it’s ultimately what has made FE so thrilling this campaign. With the field often being so compact, broken front wings have become a common sight, with Monaco having been no exception. Cassidy, though, has been able to glide through the field and lead without needing to drop a place, due to his race management having been a step ahead of the rest.

Credit: Simon Galloway courtesy of FIA Formula E

The way in which he won the second race in Berlin and in Monaco were almost identical, starting from his qualifying performance. Cassidy’s qualifying performances haven’t been great but at the same time they haven’t been terrible, with him having progressed to the duels four times this season. Four of those appearances have come in the last five races, with that having also played a part in his rise up the Drivers’ Championship.

Even when he hasn’t made the duels, though, Cassidy has always been amongst the top ten, with him having only qualified outside the top ten once all season back in Mexico City. So whilst he’s rarely qualified towards the front, he’s always been consistently amongst the top half, ensuring he’s been in a position where he can always challenge the leading places.

In the second race in Berlin, Cassidy qualified eighth, whilst in Monaco he was a place lower in ninth. As both races got underway, though, there was no sense of panic or concern, with him instead having simply settled into the race after making a couple of places. The Kiwi then spent the first half of both races preserving his energy but within striking distance of the leaders, who were swapping positions lap-by-lap.

Credit: Simon Galloway courtesy of FIA Formula E

As both races approached their second half, it’s almost like he just came to life, with a sudden surge to the front of the field. At Monaco, Cassidy pulled off a brilliant move on Mitch Evans as they approached Sainte Devote, much to the Jaguar TCS Racing driver’s surprise. Once in the lead, there was no need to drop the pace or to give the position up, with him having preserved enough energy to make it to the end of the race without needing to heavily harvest.

It meant that in both races, Jake Dennis and Evans couldn’t do anything, with their energy advantage having not been enough to overtake Cassidy. His back-to-back wins elevated him way into the lead of the Drivers’ Championship, where he boasts a twenty-point lead over Pascal Wehrlein, who has been left with several questions to answer.

Given how disappointingly his season started, Cassidy’s rise to the top has been unbelievable, with his consistency having been the key to it. After the first three races of the season Cassidy was nowhere in regard to the title fight, with him having claimed ninth in Mexico City, and then sixth and thirteenth in the Diriyah double-header. He was tenth in the standings and fifty-eight points behind Wehrlein ahead of Hyderabad, where Cassidy’s form drastically changed.

Credit: Simon Galloway courtesy of FIA Formula E

Since Hyderabad, Cassidy has finished no lower than fifth, with him having claimed five podiums from the last six races. Cassidy claimed second in Hyderabad, third in Cape Town, second again in São Paulo, fifth in Berlin Race One, before winning the second race in Berlin and in Monaco. Apart from a collision with Sacha Fenestraz on the final lap in Cape Town, all his recent performances have been flawless and like a champion in the making.

It doesn’t matter what Evans, Dennis or Wehrlein do in the remaining seven races if Cassidy remains as consistent as he is, something you certainly wouldn’t rule out based on his current form. Perhaps to his advantage, the final seven races will actually tick away relatively quickly, given that there are still three double-headers remaining this season.

The pressure is seemingly more on the others to catch Cassidy rather than on the Kiwi himself, who is looking more and more like a champion every time he jumps into the car. With it being Formula E, though, anything could still happen, but if his formula to collecting podiums continues to work then there doesn’t appear to be anything that can stop him.

Credit: Simon Galloway courtesy of FIA Formula E

The upcoming Jakarta double-header will show whether Cassidy can deal with being the leader of the championship, or whether his performances will be impacted by his attempt to retain the lead. Likewise, Wehrlein will have to take a very different approach given how close his season is to being a complete disaster, whilst Evans is also on a bit of a mini-charge.

Should Cassidy emerge from Jakarta in one piece and still comfortably in the lead, then the attention could quickly switch to the fight for second.

With that in mind, is 2023 destined to be Cassidy’s season?