CASSIDY BREAKS ABB FORMULA E WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP DUCK AS DOWNPOUR DELIVERS LATE DRAMA IN NEW YORK
Envision Racing driver claims popular maiden success on the streets of the Big Apple, as rain stops play with less than ten minutes remaining
Nick Cassidy and the Brooklyn Street Circuit have history together. Twelve months ago, the Envision Racing ace sped to pole position there and a second-place finish 24 hours later. Yesterday (16 July), he went one better, converting the top spot on the starting grid into his breakthrough victory in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship – in a dramatic race that ended under a red flag.
Aside from brief stints in the lead for Lucas Di Grassi (ROKiT Venturi Racing) during the two Attack Mode activations, Cassidy was never headed in the ninth New York City E-Prix. The New Zealander executed a textbook launch when the lights went out, and thereafter artfully withstood the dual pressure applied behind by his experienced Brazilian rival and Mercedes-EQ’s title-chasing Stoffel Vandoorne.
Cassidy was edging away from his pursuers as the race entered its final ten minutes, before intensifying rain injected a late twist into the tale. No sooner had a Full Course Yellow been deployed due to the deteriorating conditions, than three of the top four sailed straight on at Turn Six after aquaplaning on a puddle – the leader amongst them.
Cassidy’s Envision, Di Grassi’s Venturi and Vandoorne’s Mercedes were all firmly embedded in the tyre barriers, and the red flag was duly flown.
That confirmed Cassidy as the winner of the E-Prix ahead of Di Grassi, who had overhauled front row sitter Vandoorne at the start. A couple of small mistakes while in Attack Mode for the first time prevented a bid for the lead, and the 2016/17 champion subsequently slipped back to third when Vandoorne exploited his FanBoost to reclaim second place.
The Belgian – who had patiently bided his time early on, dropping as low as fifth – looked increasingly sharp as the race progressed but lost ground to Di Grassi again as well as an opportunistic Robin Frijns with 12 minutes left on the clock, when the former made a bold dive that prised the door open just wide enough for the Envision Racing driver to follow through.
From seventh on the grid – and at the scene of his most recent Formula E triumph three years ago – Frijns produced a fast and feisty performance to climb the order to third, and he appeared poised to launch a late assault on the runner-up spoils before the action came to a premature conclusion. Displaying lightning-quick reactions, the Dutchman was the only one of the top four to safely navigate the late Turn Six drama.
Vandoorne was classified fourth – elevating him to second in the title table. After a bright start initially lifted him from fifth to third, Buemi faded slightly as the race wore on, but fifth place nonetheless represented the 2015/16 title-winner’s best result of the season to-date. The driver he collided with on the last lap – Porsche’s Wehrlein – wound up sixth once the result was counted back.
The top ten finishers were completed by Jaguar TCS Racing’s Sam Bird, defending champion Nyck de Vries (Mercedes-EQ), the championship leader Edoardo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing), who posted fastest lap, and Jake Dennis (Avalanche Andretti).
Like team-mate Bird, Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) had to fight back from a slow start and ultimately just missed out on a points score in 11th – dealing a blow to the New Zealander’s title aspirations. Fellow championship front-runner Jean-Éric Vergne similarly endured a day to forget for DS TECHEETAH, finding himself tipped into a spin on the race’s first lap that restricted him to a lowly 18th place in the final reckoning.
The Frenchman does have an immediate opportunity to redress the balance, however, with the second leg of this weekend’s North American double-header – round 12 of the fiercely-contested campaign – getting underway at 13:00 local time (19:00 CET) today (Sunday).