Another second place in Saudi Arabia for Robin Frijns and some strong qualifying pace for both Envision Racing drivers means there is plenty to look forward to ahead of the upcoming Mexico City E-Prix.

Season 8 of the 2021–22 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship kicked off on the streets of Diriyah, Saudi Arabia with a double header of races, and Envision Racing’s Robin Frijns did exactly what he did 12 months ago and scored a sensational podium.

But it could easily have been a third career victory for the Dutch driver under the lights.

Starting third on the grid in race two, Frijns turned in a combative drive – attacking and defending in equal measure to enter the final 10 minutes of the race in second place and hounding race leader and eventual winner Edoardo Mortara.

A late-race safety car dashed Frijns’ hopes for a first place finish as the pack essentially took the chequered flag behind the safety car, taking just a couple of race concluding corners at racing speed.

Despite this, Frijns was “over the moon” with second place, and things are looking good for the team.

Envision Racing duo star in new qualifying

Last season’s Formula E title fight was undoubtedly exciting, however many felt that the qualifying system disadvantaged those at the top of the driver’s championship points standings.

All that has changed for the new campaign, and the introduction of Formula E’s new two-group, head-to-head knockout qualifying format not only proved fairer and more exciting, but gave both Frijns and team-mate Cassidy a stage to shine.

Frijns and Cassidy made it to the quarter finals in race one qualification, ending up seventh and sixth respectively. Unfortunately, Cassidy was denied a chance to build upon this in qualifying for the second E-Prix of the weekend on Saturday, as a crash in free practice meant the Kiwi was forced to start from the rear of the grid.

It was left to Frijns to repeat his excellent pace from Friday’s round one qualification and clock the second quickest time in Group B running, beating Andre Lotterer in the quarter final and narrowly losing out to Mortara in the semi finals. Frijns’ performance would secure the Envision Racing driver third place, whilst team-mate Cassidy was left wondering what could have been.

Cassidy off the mark in round one

In his second visit to the Diriyah street circuit, Cassidy immediately dialled into the form that returned a brace of podiums and as many pole positions in 2021.

Starting from sixth on the grid, Cassidy kept out of trouble and drove a measured and mature race to end up seventh at the flag, but despite the vital seven championship points, there were more reasons to be cheerful.

With 20 minutes of the opening race of the season left to run, Cassidy was within sight of the top three and as the final stages of the race ebbed and flowed, the Envision Racing driver showed good pace. This was underlined as Cassidy ended up with the fastest lap of the race.

Frijns is a Formula E frontrunner in 2022

As one of motorsport’s best all-round racers, there is little doubt that Robin Frijns is the real deal. Once again, the driver of the number four Envision Racing machine proved that he has pace, aggression and car control to spare.

Taking to the new qualifying setup with ease, Frijns first made the quarter finals for the opening race in Saudi Arabia, and went one better the following day. The opening race of the new season may have been one to forget as early race contact with Oliver Rowland relegated him to the back of the pack, but 24 hours later, that was ancient history.

Frijns drew upon all his skills, getting his Audi e-tron FE07 off the line superbly to hold station in the early phases of the 45-minute-plus-one-lap and conserve energy despite the frantic pace at the front. The double E-Prix winner also knew when to get his elbows out, and managed to negotiate a coming together between the front four cars as his battle with Mortara spilled over from qualifying and into the race.

With the season’s opening weekend drawing to a close, Frijns looked visibly quicker than late-race leader Mortara and victory appeared well within range…

That was until Mahindra Racing’s Alexander Simms collided with the wall, bringing out the safety car. Track workers were unable to clear the stricken car in time, meaning any designs Frijns had on passing Mortara for the win were thwarted as the race was neutralised.

“Robin had a very strong qualifying session and put the car third for the race,” reflected Sylvain Filippi, Managing Director & CTO at Envision Racing. “The race itself was very intense, with Robin racing at the front from the start, and with some great overtakes secured our first podium of the season with an excellent 2nd place.

“Nick recovered well and it was a shame for him not to be at the front as well. Overall, we take a lot of positives from the first weekend with both drivers scoring good points and we look forward to Mexico.”

Onwards to Mexico

Last time the Envision Racing squad set foot on Mexican soil it was for a mid-season double-header at the Puebla E-Prix, and despite a chastening weekend for title challenger Frijns, it was a breakout one for his rookie team-mate Cassidy.

Having already bagged a pole position at the Rome E-Prix, Cassidy scored his maiden Formula E podium on in the weekend’s second race. He went and repeated the feat at the next race in New York City.

This year, the drivers will return to the automotive amphitheatre of the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, which last year was being used as a hospital for Covid-19 patients, and following on from the pace shown in both qualifying and the race under the lights in Saudi Arabia things are looking bright for the team.

Check out @Envision_Racing and to keep up with how the Envision Racing team get on at the Mexico City E-Prix