“I feel more prepared than ever”, Formula E championship contender Nick Cassidy on his championship hopes
In this interview, we caught up with Formula E race winner Nick Cassidy, who shares his thoughts and feelings after his win in Berlin. We explore his championship hopes and the challenges he and his team face. Cassidy also reflects on his preparation for the title fight, including Envision Racing's significant progress, and their preparation for the Constructor's fight.
Q: How does it feel to be at the sharp end of the grid battling for positions and wins with a fellow New Zealander, Mitch Evans? Is it cool for you, flying the flag together? Is that a point of pride for you?
A: Thanks for asking that question because I feel that point's been kind of missed. I hope Mitch feels the same way. But I'm incredibly proud and I think it's a massive deal for New Zealand to have a 1-2 at the end of the world championship race in Sao Paulo. That was a very cool moment. Mitch and I have been best mates and racing against each other since we were six years old. To do that on the world stage was pretty cool and now obviously with the last two races as well, that form continued for us which was quite nice.
Q: With Envision now really significantly closing the gap to Porsche, Can you tell us how prepared the team feels to take Porsche on in the constructor's fight?
A: The team feels prepared for sure. I mean last year maybe we had ups and downs but in season seven we went to the last round leading the team's championship, season five-six, and before we were always strong as well. So this team is used to winning. It's one of the reasons why I wanted to join here back in season seven. I knew it was a top team. But at the same time the season's very young. I mean there are still eight races to go. I think it's a long way. As we've seen, I think other manufacturers are closing the gap as well. For example, our factory team in terms of Jaguar is very very strong and they're close on points. I think even though we're close to the lead right now, a lot can change and the next races will be very interesting.
Q: What are your thoughts on the revised Tempelhof circuit?
A: I love Berlin, the city, and travelling there. And I think the atmosphere with the fans and everything is good. It's just that I’m really surprised to win there because I don't feel driving-wise I'm particularly competitive there so I was quite surprised on the Sunday night flight home, that's for sure.
Q: You know consistency plays a huge role and we saw last year with Stoffle Vandoorne, he just won the Monaco Grand Prix and managed to win the title. How do you see your chance of fighting for the title this year? Do you feel like you are more prepared than ever to win it?
A: Yeah, I mean consistency is obviously very important, but I've been very lucky these last races, so who knows what can happen. Maybe in Monaco, we don't score. So let's wait and see. I'm going to be cautious to make any predictions, but for sure we're going to need good results to fight for the title. I, as a driver, feel more prepared than ever. I feel like I'm doing a better job than I ever have.
Q: Statistically, this is the best run you've had in Formula E so far, why do you think that is? Are you doing anything differently compared to the last year?
A: Yes, statistically it works, but obviously, there are a lot of factors that go into things. I don't think that there’s one reason. For sure, I've been lucky like I'm the first guy to say that. For sure, I feel as though I'm fast. For sure, I feel more experienced than ever. So, you need a combination of factors to go together. I think last year I had really outstanding pace at times, but I had a pace also that was absolutely nowhere and I didn't feel like this was all down to me. However, you're still the guy who's focused on, and you're the guy with the steering wheel and the pedals. So yeah I've got to do what I can in my control to try to be there all the time and work on what I can. But I'm fortunate as well to have a great package, the team's working really well and all of these things have come together in the last 5-6 races. But there's a long way to go and who knows if that can continue.
Q: Is system software development carried out by Jaguar or Envision Racing?
A: I guess it's complicated. I think we have some involvement. Most things are produced by Jaguar, but we try to contribute as much as we can. I must say I think they're working really well. I'm really proud of Envision, but also I think Jaguar has been working incredibly hard and have had updates basically every race, which I think is really impressive. I hope that's not taken the wrong way by either party, but I'm very proud of them both.
Q: During the race in Berlin, we could see you were able to manage the leadership in the second race, but on Saturday something went differently. In your opinion, what was different?
A: Well, Saturday was going really well. I had just finished my second attack mode and I was top six. So we're kind of in a similar position on Saturday and Sunday actually at the same time of the race. And I was good on energy. But passing for fifth, I touched my front wing on Mortara (Edoardo) at the apex which was completely my misjudgment. Not trying to pass Mortara, not trying to brake late, just misjudged where the front of the car is. And this year the front wing is quite a bit further forward so you're seeing, a lot of drivers touch the rear of cars, not intentionally. And I just simply made a mistake, a bad judgement. So I broke my front wing, I went to last under the safety car and we came back to P5. I knew from the race on Saturday that our speed was really good, our efficiency was really good and I could come from very far back in 20 laps and come to P5. So for Sunday, it gave me a lot of confidence. But for sure it meant that on Saturday, instead of fighting for the win, I was made to do a recovery. But this was completely, completely my own fault and my own misjudgment.
Q: Porsche opened this season winning the first three races, but Jaguar seems to have the dominant powertrain now. How do you explain that evolution?
A: I wouldn't say that's completely true. I think it's coincidence by numbers. It's like being at the casino at roulette and you look at the last three numbers were red and the previous before that were three black. But you don't know which one's going to be next. It's still going to be 50:50 and DS are strong, I mean Jake (Dennis), I think he scored the second most amount of points after me in the last few races, maybe with Mitch and I. So Jake is there. Look, Jake was really strong in this race. He had more energy than me. He was a little bit more efficient in P2. Obviously, Antonio was very close to winning Cape Town and Sao Paulo. If he didn't go straight into turn one, I think in that race it was a race between Mitch and Antonio and myself. Porsche and DS are very much there and it's going to be a really hard fight.
Q: On those last laps of the race that you won, did you think that Jake Dennis will try to attack for the lead?
A: I could see him trying but I think that the pace was too fast. I don't mean just from me, but in general, the lap time at the end of the race, the last three laps was 1:06:9, which was faster than my push lap in FP1, so it was just difficult to pass. I think if he had the opportunity he would, but everyone was more or less pushing on full limit.
Q: You have had solid results in the past, and you also mentioned that the race was very exciting for you. What do you think about the Gen.3 car?
A: Yeah, I've been really surprised, to be honest. I wasn't sure from testing and even the first race, but when I look at the last races, how they are spoken about in the media, but also from the comments online and watching myself, personally I find the races very exciting to watch and I don't remember a time in Gen.2. Well, for sure Gen.2 was exciting and we had great races. But yeah, as a fan, for viewing it myself right now I'm really enjoying watching it and not really knowing what's going to happen. So pleasantly surprised.
Q: Do you think it's possible to win drivers or the constructor’s title at this moment?
A: I think the driver will say the drivers and the teams will say the teams, but my answer is both, they're very possible because I have a very strong teammate that I think will score lots of points in the second half of the year. I hope I can too and in theory, this means that we can fight for the team's championship. But of course on paper at the moment we're there with the drivers championship as well, so I would like to think it's possible to fight for both.
Q: We are sort of comparing I guess sports car racing and single-seaters, I guess it's a diverse kind of stuff you've done, and the same with Seb as well. What do you think that you've learned from your activities in sports cars as opposed to single-seater that you've then transferred most into the current efforts where you are now in Formula E?
A: I think for myself, my background is very much has been Super GT and the Super Formula in Japan, but there I think what I was good at was being consistent, being level-headed, not making mistakes. Picking up on my bad days and that's honestly what I missed in my first years of Formula E. So I kind of needed to bring back my mindset and my qualities from the past and I'm trying to apply that the best I can. So for me, that's probably the biggest side. But I guess the sports car side's very different probably from my experience with Seb’s experience because if I look at Hypercar and LMDH now, they obviously have front powertrain there as well, a four-wheel drive, four-wheel recovery, quite a few of those things almost relate to Formula E and of course there are some really big differences and it's not really like you copy one strategy or thing from one to another, but I guess Seb's experience from the hypercar for Gen.3 was probably very valuable and I think me personally, I saw him when he came into this Gen.3 program, the car was much more relatable to him in my opinion than a Gen.2 car because of that experience that he has with Toyota right now and the Hypercar.
Q: Envision is the previous seasons weren’t able to catch up with the development as compared to manufacturer teams. Do you think something like this could happen again with the Gen.3 car being so new?
A: It's an interesting question. I don't necessarily think that was the development. I mean by regulation and agreements and things we have the same car available to us as Jaguars, so we're very, very lucky for that. But obviously, I think it's more just small things. I think we were, for example, the only team not to test between Sao Paulo and Berlin. Most teams did a test, just little things like the testing and the simulator. We have the same package available to us which is really, really positive. It's just I guess we don't arrive as prepared to race weekend as manufacturer drivers or teams.