Envision Racing focus on bringing home the Team’s Championship after drama and disappointment underlined the weekend’s opening race.
Sébastien Buemi emerged from a dramatic, double red-flagged first race of the season-ending London E-Prix weekend with a hard-fought third place, and his first podium finish of the season.
Things got underway in London with a stellar start for Drivers’ Championship challenger Nick Cassidy and team-mate Buemi. Both Envision Racing drivers were flying in formation throughout the opening laps, and everything looked good, as Cassidy held the lead, with Buemi running second, allowing the New Zealander to pull away.
Everything changed as the race approached the halfway point. A broken front wing also broke the heart of Cassidy, ending his title-winning aspirations. With Cassidy eventually forced to retire, Buemi took up the charge to keep the fight for the Teams’ Championship on the boil, and Envision Racing remain on top of the standings with one race remaining.
Things had turned out pretty well for Cassidy in qualifying. After posting the fastest time in practice, once again the Envision Racing driver made his way into the duels, only to face team-mate Buemi for the third time this season.
Cassidy prevailed, and went on to battle fellow Kiwi Mitch Evans in the final.
— Envision Racing (@Envision_Racing) July 29, 2023
Despite losing out to Evans, the Jaguar driver was handed a five-place grid penalty due to his involvement in that dramatic incident in Rome last time out, meaning Cassidy would claim a vital pole, with title rival Dennis second, and Buemi third.
All four championship contenders started the weekend’s opening race in the top seven, and it was Cassidy who led into the opening sequence of corners, as Buemi heroically barged his way into second and past Dennis.
Envision Racing ended the opening lap running one-two, ahead of Dennis. With Buemi acting as a rear gunner, team-mate Cassidy could breathe a little easier in the opening phase of the race. Behind the leading quartet, Rene Rast and Evans looked keen to unseat Dennis from the final podium place.
By lap five, with Buemi backing the pack up, Cassidy streaked to a lead over over a second, allowing the Envision Racing driver to take Attack Mode and rejoin in the lead. Two laps later, Dennis was demoted to fourth by a racy Evans, as up front Cassidy took a second Attack Mode phase, regaining the lead once again.
There was further good news for Cassidy as Dennis failed to trigger his first Attack Mode phase, losing another place. Despite this, Cassidy dropped to third in a bid to save early-race energy, falling behind Buemi, as Evans assumed the lead.
On lap 11 it was all change as fortune shone on Dennis. The British driver passed Cassidy for fourth, relegating the Envision Racing driver to fifth. There was further drama two laps later as Cassidy and Buemi, hunting as a duo, muscled past Dennis. This enabled Buemi to run in third, with Cassidy following in his wheel tracks.
Disaster struck for Cassidy on lap 15. Running in fourth, the front wing became dislodged following light contact with Buemi, hampering the Envision Racing driver and sending him into the pits, effectively ending his afternoon.
As Cassidy pitted for a new wing, a safety car was called on lap 16 to clear up the subsequent debris. At the head of the field, Buemi held second as the race restarted.
With Cassidy retiring, it was left to Buemi to bag the big points in the quest for the Teams’ Championship. Entering the final 10 laps, the Swiss driver continued to pile the pressure on Evans whilst defending from Rast.
A sizeable crash for Sacha Fenestraz at Turn 13 triggered a second safety car period. Following a handful of laps, the safety car phase turned into a race stoppage and to allow barrier repairs to take place.
Following a lengthy delay, the battle was on again in a four-lap dash with Evans leading Buemi and Dennis. On the second lap of the restart, Evans took an Attack Mode phase and regained the lead as Buemi fell back to fourth. Things got considerably worse for Buemi and several other drivers as a multi-car shunt played out at Turn 14, necessitating a second red flag.
The third start, and the second rolling start of the afternoon, saw Evans hold onto his lead from António Félix da Costa, as Buemi held fourth in pursuit of third place man Dennis in a two-lap dash to the finish.
At the chequered flag, Buemi seemingly had to settle for fourth as Evans claimed victory for Jaguar. Fourth dramatically became third for the Envision Racing driver, and a vital podium, as second place driver da Costa was hit with a three-minute time penalty.
Da Costa’s penalty promoted Dennis to second, handing him the Drivers’ Championship title, whilst Buemi’s hard work means the Team’s Championship is very much alive heading into the final race of an epic season.