until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

‘Too kind’ – The team implosion that ended Cassidy’s title bid

by Sam Smith
6 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

The London E-Prix collision between Envision team-mates Nick Cassidy and Sebastien Buemi that effectively ended Cassidy’s 2023 Formula E title aspirations had its roots in Cassidy being “too kind”.

That was the appraisal of Cassidy himself, who was attempting to return Buemi’s initial wingman work of getting between him and his title rival Jake Dennis – who was crowned champion after he was classified second in the first race of the weekend at the ExCeL arena.

Attempted intricate choreography between team-mates has seldom worked in Formula E, former entrant DS Techeetah – on multiple occasions – and the Mercedes EQ team in London last season having fallen foul of such manoeuvres.

Buemi had jumped Dennis at the first sequence of corners and ran second, allowing polesitter Cassidy to take his first two attack modes with minimal impact on his race, which seemingly built the foundation for a winning strategy.

Things appeared to be going even better, too, when Dennis missed the first of his attack mode activations (something he repeated later in the race).

At this stage, Cassidy led and Dennis had dropped to fifth position. But on lap eight Cassidy dropped behind eventual race winner Mitch Evans and Buemi, before Dennis then cleared Cassidy and shuffled him down to fourth – which became fifth almost immediately as McLaren’s Rene Rast sailed past the two title protagonists along the start/finish straight.

Buemi then dutifully backed Dennis into his team-mate, who was able to reclaim the position on lap 13, and it looked as if Buemi would either allow Cassidy through or be asked to do so.

But the two collided at the exit of Turn 3 on lap 15, which resulted in Cassidy’s front wing becoming dislodged.

Spacesuit Media Peter Minnig 419924

Explaining the point at which the collision took place and whether he’d been asked to let Cassidy through, Buemi told The Race “obviously I was ready to do so” but at that point “I was not [told]”.

“He tried to go for a move that I was not aware he would do,” added Buemi.

“I would have obviously given him the position, but he went for that move, I did not really understand. I guess it’s miscommunication because I was ready to play the wingman today, really.”

When asked if he was told to give Cassidy the position back on that lap, Buemi said he received “nothing” and that he “just asked the team what they want me to do: no answer”.

“I was willing to do whatever the team wanted me to do so I guess we’ll regroup and improve the process for tomorrow,” he said.

Cassidy, who continued initially but later retired, having also been involved in a collision with Edoardo Mortara’s Maserati, was seen confronting his team looking for explanations.

He told The Race that “sometimes I just think I’m too kind”.

“I had two attacks [attack mode uses] done, I had the race won, had the most energy of the lead bunch from what I was being told and I slowed up and went behind Buemi to try and help him out, so he could do an attack,” said Cassidy.

He went on to explain that he “saw what he did for me, wanted to help the team, and I thought I would still win the race, I’ve had great pace all day, I had big energy”.

The official team radio with his engineer outlined some of the choreography that was being attempted.

Cassidy’s radio communication

Cassidy: Tell Seb to pass me around the outside of [Turn] 16.
Engineer: He will be told.
NC: Then we gladiator for him as well.
Engineer: Good plan. Seb has been told.

While that detailed the initial plan as outlined by Cassidy, confusion then reigned as he then vaulted passed his team-mate.

When asked if he thought Buemi was not told he was to retake the position, Cassidy said: “Yes, it sounds like that was the case [that Buemi was not told to let him pass].

“I was told that we would be swapping positions into Turn 1, holding it flat, and then…

“Look, the contact was on the exit of Turn 3, but the damage was done in the preceding three corners. When I touched Seb I should never have been behind at that point, according to what we were told [before the race].”

Spacesuit Media Peter Minnig 419881

Cassidy had started from pole for the second time in 2023 earlier in the day, although it was inherited after Evans served his five-place grid penalty for taking Cassidy out of the previous E-Prix in Rome.

When questioned if he had any notion of Evans sacrificing the three points on offer for the fastest time in qualifying in the final duel for a fellow Jaguar driver, knowing he had a five-place drop, Cassidy said: “No, look, [Evans] is a racer, Jaguar are racers, I knew that they would attack.

“I was the fastest car by a mile today but I just screwed up Turn 16 [on his qualifying lap], and I think we screwed up our tyre strategy in qualifying as well so ended up on a cold set for that final which was a disaster and then I missed Turn 16 as well.

“The rest of the lap was pretty mega for what we had so I was just super annoyed at myself.”

Buemi reckoned he should have won the race but for a missed attack mode of his own. He then collided with Nissan’s Norman Nato when fighting for fourth position after trying to use up his attack mode before the end of the race and caused a traffic jam that caught up most of the field and triggered the race’s second red flag.

“The problem was that I had a six-minute attack to take and you have to finish the attack by the end of the race,” Buemi said.

“It was kind of a desperate move [by Nato].

“Luckily my car was not damaged. I don’t know how.”

Nato lost a front wing in the shunt and restarted the race without a replacement (as did Sergio Sette Camara and Stoffel Vandoorne).

Eps915 160646sb1 0856 2048x2048

He finished fifth on the road and was briefly promoted to fourth by a three-minute penalty for Antonio Felix da Costa for a technical infraction, but dropped to ninth in the provisional classification having been penalised for his contact with Buemi.

“I got a five-second penalty, which I’m really surprised by to be honest,” Nato told The Race.

“All the onboard video [shows] that I’m side by side, especially he had to play this position because he had to do a six-minute attack mode, he had to lose nine seconds per lap and to slow down everyone.

“He had to brake in the straight and everything, it was really dangerous.

“Then I found a way to go and pass, we were side by side, and he kept turning. So, for sure we both go straight and I’m the one who got penalised.”

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks