until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

Formula E's big 2024 mover sounds ominously confident

by Sam Smith
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

The transition from customer team to works outfit would appear to be a relatively seamless one in Formula E but there are nuances of racing for manufacturers that are, and will be, intriguing for Nick Cassidy as he starts a new phase of his career.

Each manufacturer in Formula E is vastly different. From Porsche's and Jaguar's classic factory entities to DS Automobiles' slightly off-set technical structure to Nissan’s multi-faceted complexity and then Mahindra’s family-business feel, each has its own identity when it comes to how its team is run.

Cassidy will make his debut for Jaguar in Mexico next weekend, and while some other highly fancied drivers have taken time to bed in at factory teams, notably Antonio Felix da Costa and Stoffel Vandoorne at Porsche and DS Penske respectively last season, Cassidy is as confident as he dare be that his transition will be smoother.

Both da Costa and Vandoorne of course came from factory teams, DS and Mercedes, but crucially they did so at the start of a rules set. Cassidy is in new colours for the second season of the Gen3 era and that, perhaps more than anything, will be where he can hit the ground running.

Cassidy knows the car, too, from his 2023 season spent at Jaguar customer Envision. He also knows how some aspects of the Jaguar set-up work because he to some degree helped inform the development of the Jaguar I-Type 6 that he will drive alongside Mitch Evans next year.

Last year’s championship runner-up was indeed the first driver to conduct a proper test with what would become the multiple race-winning design from the Big Cat.

Perhaps most of all, though, Cassidy will take some useful experience from several years ago when he was working with Toyota. The Super GT programme that he was involved with was immersive and Cassidy was a central part of the development of the cars that ran as Lexus LC500s and Toyota GR Supra GT500s between 2017 and 2020.

“I must say that the thing that I really liked about Jaguar is that I think they noticed that experience too,” Cassidy tells The Race.

“From the work that we're doing on the simulator, I think we had a lot of support from Jaguar last season, they were incredible partners to Envision and really helped me in my championship chase, but that also came from my experience of developing race cars with a manufacturer like Toyota.

“With where I was, in the last couple of years, I wasn't able to really tap into that skillset. Then last season, I found myself in a position where I was able to touch on that more and more.”

That’s significant because Cassidy arrives at Jaguar when it is in a state of adaptation. The physical manifestation of that not only includes changes in its senior staff but also a shiny new base which houses arguably the best remote operations control room and driver-in-the-loop simulator in the Formula E paddock.

All of this can be seen in two ways for Cassidy. The first view is it’s immaculate timing and that he should enjoy longevity at Jaguar just as Evans has done over the last seven years. The other is that Jaguar’s cohesion might be unsettled for a short period as it pivots slightly in light of the departure of technical director Phil Charles while adjusting to its new facility.

Cassidy seems unconcerned. In fact, he visibly and audibly exudes more quiet confidence than ever, especially after recent outings in the car which included an assured display at Valencia. If such a thing as a plug-in-and-play scenario exists then we've just seen the early foundations of it applied.

“I've had a couple of test days now,” he confirms.

“With the manufacturer testing you can have more involvement and more influence. It means that a few of the systems on the car, I now probably understand a bit more of the background to and what they do, and how I can use them.

“All the work that I do during those test days gets passed on to the customer team [Envision] anyway. But if it can mean that as a four-car team, we can be stronger from it, then I'm all for it.

“Just having the ability to be there and be part of that input and that development throughout those days, I think for me is the one major key.”

Jaguar and Envision clearly have a strong relationship but like all others, it has its moments of being tested. The good times came at Sao Paulo (Evans, Cassidy, and Sam Bird locked out the podium) but the bad was obviously Rome, when Evans wiped-out his future team-mate.

Intriguingly, Cassidy was using Jaguar’s simulator as well as Envision's last season. It was only a handful of days but it helped both Jaguar and Cassidy understand each other a little before the new marriage was sealed in the summer.

Again, it’s another little bit of intelligence that should help both parties in their quests for titles in the coming years.

Will Cassidy thrive at Jaguar? Time will tell, but the initial prognosis is that there is more than just that plug-in-and-play trope going on. The 'playing' will be tough, he knows that, but the air of confidence permeating Jaguar’s new headquarters tells its own tale right now.

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