CLASSY CASSIDY COMES CLOSE TO VICTORY ENDING UP 2ND AT THE HYDERABAD E-PRIX BUT IT’S PENALTY HEARTBREAK FOR BUEMI
Top tier motorsport returned to India for the first time in a decade with a thrilling Hyberabad E-Prix, and Envision Racing’s Nick Cassidy ended up second, with victory in sight.
Starting ninth, Driver of the Race Cassidy quickly moved through the field and, along with team mate Sébastien Buemi, looked good for at least a podium all race long. The Kiwi driver conserved energy artfully to end up contesting the closing laps with four percent more energy than a depleted Jean-Éric Vergne.
Despite applying immense pressure to Vergne, the veteran French driver defended superbly to somehow hold off Cassidy and win, with Buemi ending up where he started the race in third.
Unfortunately for Buemi, after the chequered flag had been waved, the Envision Racing driver was found to have exceeded his energy usage. This brought with it a retrospective drive-through penalty, demoting him down to 15th, and cruelly ending his three-race points-scoring run.
— Envision Racing (@Envision_Racing) February 11, 2023
Under bright blue skies, Buemi made it into the head-to-head phase of qualifying once again, beating Sacha Fenestraz in the quarter-finals and progressing into the semi-finals. The Swiss driver faced off with eventual pole position-winner Mitch Evans, and couldn’t quite match the pace of the Jaguar driver, settling for a superb third place starting slot on the brand new Hyderabad circuit.
Buemi’s team-mate Nick Cassidy underlined the qualifying pace of the Envision Racing machine, posting the ninth fastest time and narrowly missing out on the duels.
The moment we made history in India 🇮🇳
— ABB FIA Formula E World Championship (@FIAFormulaE) February 11, 2023
At the start of the inaugural Hyderabad E-Prix, Buemi did well to defend from a fast-starting Fenestraz, holding third place, as Cassidy made immediate progress, moving up from ninth to seventh to set about chasing Sam Bird.
Before the end of the opening lap, Cassidy made a superb move on Bird to claim sixth place. At the front, Evans converted his pole into an early lead, followed by Vergne in second with Buemi holding third as the race settled into its rhythm.
On lap eight, Buemi copied his team-mate’s earlier strategy, passing Vergne with a clinical move to take the lead at the turn three hairpin, as race leader Evans elected to take Attack Mode. Buemi’s early race progress was mirrored by Cassidy as the Envision Racing driver moved up a place, claiming sixth.
One lap later, Buemi took his first Attack Mode, crucially emerging in second place, and ahead of Evans’ Jaguar. On lap 10, Vergne moved through the Attack Mode zone, allowing Buemi to resume the lead of the Hyderabad E-Prix.
There was huge drama on lap 13 as both Jaguar drivers collided at turn three, compromising Fenestraz and Maximilian Günther in the process, and sensationally promoting Cassidy into third place.
With the dust settled, Vergne took the lead on lap 15 as Buemi took his second Attack Mode, falling back to fourth, with Cassidy now running in second place.
One lap later, it was Cassidy’s turn to take Attack Mode, and the Kiwi managed to maintain the lead over his team-mate, meaning both Envision Racing cars were running line astern. This didn’t last long as on lap 17, Cassidy made light work of Jake Dennis to surge back into second place.
Buemi followed Cassidy in front of Dennis as the British driver took his Attack Mode and the Swiss driver did superbly to defend from the faster Avalanche Andretti car, holding on to third place.
Entering the final 10 laps, Cassidy was sitting pretty with an additional two percent of energy over Vergne, as the leading pair pulled a gap of almost two seconds over the Buemi-Dennis-Rast battle for third place.
As Cassidy hounded Vergne for the lead, the stricken McLaren of Jake Hughes triggered a safety car, bunching up the pack.
With the debris cleared it was game on once more as Vergne resumed in the lead ahead of Cassidy and Buemi. With additional energy over the leading Penske car, Cassidy maintained his intense pressure on Vergne with Buemi maintaining a watching brief in third.
On lap 26, Cassidy made his second bid for the lead at turn four, pushing Vergne to desperately defend his lead. Behind the second place Envision Racing machine, Buemi skilfully defended from Oliver Rowland as an additional lap was added to the original 32-lap race distance.
The big question was could Cassidy snatch the lead on the final lap?
The answer, remarkably, was no. With a four-percent energy advantage over leader Vergne, Cassidy couldn’t find a way around the DS Penske driver who crossed the line with almost no power, leaving Cassidy to settle for a superb second place, ahead of Envision Racing team-mate Buemi in third.
A stunning double podium for Envision Racing, was not to be. Shortly after the race, Buemi was slapped with a drive-through penalty, promoting António Félix da Costa to third, with championship leader Pascal Wehrlein taking fourth.
Cassidy’s points haul places him fifth in the standings as the team head to South Africa for the Cape Town E-prix.
“I’m super happy with the first podium of the season,” said Cassidy after the race. “I really feel for Seb and also the Jaguar team today, all four of the Jaguar-powered cars were great and we all deserve to be up here at the front, so happy for myself, but sad that as a team we aren’t all able to celebrate after all the hard work the teams have put in this weekend.”
Drivers’ standings (after Rd 4):
1. Pascal Wehrlein, 80pts
2. Jake Dennis, 62pts
3. Jean-Éric Vergne, 31pts
4. Sébastien Buemi, 31pts
5. Nick Cassidy, 28pts
Teams’ standings (after Rd 4):
1. Porsche Formula E Team, 101pts
2. Avalanche Andretti, 78pts
3. Envision Racing, 59pts
4. McLaren Formula E Team, 53pts
5. Jaguar TCS Racing, 42pts