Nick Cassidy scores his first Formula E victory at the New York E-Prix opener in the rain
RIYADH: Envision Racing’s Nick Cassidy claimed a maiden Formula E win at the New York E-Prix, ahead of ROKiT Venturi Racing’s Lucas di Grassi and team-mate Robin Frijns.
Torrential rain flooded the track late in the race creating one of the most spectacular finishes of the season so far.
In the final 10 minutes of the scheduled 45-plus-minute race – the first of a double-header in New York – a storm swept through with heavy rain rocking the Brooklyn Street Circuit and leaving puddles of standing water in the braking zone on Lap 6.
A “full-course yellow” has been called (where cars slow to 50mph, line up and maintain distance from each other without using a safety car) but Cassidy, di Grassi and Stoffel Vandoorne – along with ‘Edoardo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) – couldn’t help but hydroplane straight and into the wall. More drivers fell through in impossible conditions as the race ended early with a red flag.
Before the rain arrived, Cassidy had started from Julius Bar Pole Position for the first time and was leading from the front, with Di Grassi and Frijns applying pressure from behind as the race headed towards its conclusion, the pair having knocked down Vandoorne from second place on lap 27. .
World Drivers’ Championship leader Mortara had also worked his way up to fifth place with a late second mode of attack, with the Venturi driver missing the Duels in qualifying, starting ninth.
The red flag meant that the result of the race was decided by countdown with finishing positions defined according to the lap preceding that during which the stoppage was announced, in accordance with article 41.9 of the sporting regulations of the FIA. The decision meant victory in the race went a delighted Cassidy’s way, with di Grassi and Frijns completing the podium.
“It’s such a rollercoaster of emotions, I was pretty calm after everything that happened (but) obviously very disappointed at first,” Cassidy said. “I felt like I did everything right today, I felt like it was in the bag with ten to go and then it started to rain. I was initially very disappointed considering this, but – and I know I’m biased – I think it’s the right decision.
“(When I heard he had won) I said in the garage ‘Are you sure, are you sure?’ It’s hard for me to say too much, but I’m super happy with the win and I don’t want to talk about the decision-making process and all that,” he added. “But in terms of racing, the team did a fantastic job, I had a fantastic car today and I’m really happy, especially after last weekend, that we were able to come here and get the win.”
Vandoorne was unable to capitalize on his starting grid advantage over Mortara, with the ROKiT Venturi Racing driver coming in fifth but extending his World Championship lead to 13 points over Vandoorne. Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) only managed 11th and Jean-Eric Vergne (DS TECHEETAH) finished 18th, both outside the points.
This leaves ROKiT Venturi Racing at the top of the World Team Championship standings, 23 points ahead of Mercedes-EQ, which overtakes DS TECHEETAH.
“Today’s crash was the biggest crash in Formula E of my career, one of the biggest crashes I’ve had in motorsport – it was well over 15g,” di Grassi said. . “I’m completely bruised, my neck, my hands, my legs – but I’m fine. It just goes to show that when you’re not complaining, there’s really nothing you can do.
“I’m glad they gave a red flag and reversed the race result, that was the first thing to do,” said the ROKiT Venturi driver. “I’m happy with the points, but unhappy that the car is in complete pieces and the mechanics will have to work hard to put the car together tomorrow.”
The race left a busy night for engineers at most team garages to prepare for Round 12 and the second race of the New York E-Prix double-header on Sunday.
The iconic Empire State Building has been illuminated in the distinctive Formula E electric blue to mark the fifth year of the New York E-Prix as part of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.