until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

Illness ends Rowland's Formula E title shot

by Sam Smith
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Oliver Rowland’s long-shot 2024 Formula E title bid is all but over after he was forced to withdraw from this weekend’s Portland double-header on medical grounds.

Indy NXT driver Caio Collet will stand in for the unwell Rowland at Nissan in the United States.

Caio Collet

The Race understands that Rowland - who sits fourth in the current standings, 36 points behind leader Nick Cassidy with four races to go - did not travel to the US after falling ill early this week and sought a medical opinion on whether he could fly for the races. He is believed to have been advised not to during Friday morning UK time.

Being forced to miss the two Portland races ends Rowland’s slim title chances after a stellar season in which he had scored six podium positions and claimed more points (131) than any Nissan driver since it took over the entry from Renault, initially via e.dams, in 2018.

Rowland’s absence will also likely affect Nissan’s push to protect its current third position in the teams’ championship, which is by far its best performance since it finished second in the first Gen2 era season in 2019-20.

Collet has been the reserve and simulator driver for Nissan since the start of the season and has attended several races in this capacity, dovetailing duties with Nissan customer team McLaren’s sub racer Taylor Barnard.

It was Barnard who stood in at the last minute for Sam Bird when the McLaren driver fractured his hand in a practice accident in Monaco in late April.

The Race says….

Oliver Rowland

Nissan will miss the in-form Rowland hugely this weekend at a track where it qualified well but raced badly last season.

It has made significant gains on understanding energy sensitive races this season and a substantial part of that improvement has been Rowland’s aggressive awareness of such races and how to move through into attacking positions.

Oliver Rowland Nissan Misano Formula E 2024

His win at Misano was fortunate and gained via Antonio Felix da Costa’s bizarre disqualification for use of an old Gen2 spec throttle spring. That ruling was upheld earlier this week, ensuring by record Rowland now has two E-Prix wins after claiming his first (also for Nissan) at one of the six Berlin races in 2020.

Collet becomes the second ‘pool’ Nissan driver to stand-in this season after Taylor Barnard’s heroics at Monaco and Berlin.

But make no mistake, Collet’s task is actually much harder than Barnard’s.

For one thing he has more time to think about being thrust into the fray, which at Portland will be much more intense than it was in Monaco for Barnard.

Taylor Barnard McLaren Monaco Formula E 2024

Additionally, Collet does not know the Portland track at all. He has not sim tested at the venue after being US-based in recent weeks for the glut of Indy NXT races at Detroit, Road America and Laguna Seca, where he took a trio of second places and thrust himself into title contention against Louis Foster and Jacob Abel.

Collet therefore has no expectations upon his shoulders this weekend and his chances of getting points appear to be slim, although should he follow Barnard’s example of deliberately keeping out of the line of fire of the midfield and rear pack then a finish or a sniff of a score through attrition might be achievable.

That would be very well-received by Nissan, which sits just three points ahead of DS Penske and four ahead of Andretti in a tight three-way battle for third position this season.

Sacha Fenestraz

The withdrawal of Rowland also swings a light on his team-mate Sacha Fenestraz, who has scored 105 points fewer than his new partner.

Fenestraz has come under pressure for his seat for what was planned to be a third season.

A decision on whether Fenestraz stays with the team is believed to be imminent.

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