Envision Racing all set for success as Formula E arrives in Brazil
20 March 2023
SÉBASTIEN BUEMI AND NICK CASSIDY WILL LOOK TO FIGHT AT THE FRONT ONCE AGAIN AS THEY HEAD TO SOUTH AMERICA FOR THE INAUGURAL SAO PAULO E-PRIX
When it comes to motorsport, Brazil has produced some of the greatest drivers of all time. Ayrton Senna, Nelson Piquet, Emerson Fittipaldi and Rubens Barrichello are just a few that have become household names at the highest level of the sport. It is fitting therefore, that after a gap of five years, the world’s fastest all-electric racing series heads to a continent with a passion for high-speed, wheel-to-wheel action.
The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship was scheduled to go to Brazil for the Rio de Janeiro E-Prix, way back in Season 1, however this never happened due to technical and logistical reasons. Fast forward to 2023, and this season’s E-Prix in São Paulo will mark the third consecutive event to be held on a brand new circuit, following on from the Hyderabad E-Prix. and the last race in Cape Town, South Africa.
With Envision Racing’s Nick Cassidy sitting fifth in the Drivers’ Championship standings, just two points ahead of team-mate Sébastien Buemi, and the team holding a superb second place in the Team’s Championship order, the upcoming visit to São Paulo could prove to be a happy hunting ground. Both Cassidy and Buemi are within contention for the title after five races so far in 2023, and Envision Racing sit 32 points behind Porsche, totally focused on closing that gap.
THE CHALLENGE IN BRAZIL
The São Paulo Street Circuit measures out at 2.96km, with 11 turns in total, and is partially made up of the layout which hosted IndyCar competition until a decade ago. It comprises three long straights which will test the top speed capabilities of the new GEN3 Formula E machines.
As well as some anticipated high speeds on the São Paulo streets, the drivers will have to negotiate a couple of tricky chicanes, as well as a good mix of tight, 90 degree turns, a tight hairpin and some sweeping corners.
Envision Racing’s Buemi will be hoping for a similar result to one he scored in South America back in 2015. The Swiss driver won the Punta del Este ePrix that year, and with the form and pace shown by the team so far this in 2023, Buemi will be amongst the favourites for victory in São Paulo.
Key to success for both Envision Racing drivers will be getting to grips with the circuit as quickly as possible in the weekend’s opening practice session, and if the performances displayed at new circuits in India and South Africa are anything to go by, there’s going to be very little to worry about on that score.
LAST TIME OUT IN SOUTH AFRICA
What a weekend it was in South Africa.
The first ever Cape Town E-Prix was certainly one to remember. Buemi did well to recover from a sizeable accident in the first practice session of the weekend and make it into the qualifying duels. Come race day did even better to come back and finish fifth after being punted off and spun around on the opening lap by championship leader Pascal Wehrlein.
For Buemi’s team-mate, the Cape Town E-Prix provided a platform to stake his claim as a Formula E front-runner and championship contender. Once again in 2023, the green Jaguar-powered Envision Racing machine excelled in qualifying as Cassidy joined Buemi in the knock-out phase of, making it into the semi-finals and lining up a stellar third on the grid.
In the race, Cassidy held the lead during the opening stages, and showed that he and Envision Racing had the pace to challenge for the victory. The Kiwi driver’s hard work paid off on the last lap, as sitting in fourth, Cassidy took advantage of a mistake by third place man Sacha Fenestra to clinch his second consecutive podium.
After being cruelly denied a third place finish at the Hyderabad E-Prix due to a post-race penalty, Buemi did extremely well to draw on his speed and years of experience to come from last on the opening lap, to end up fifth at the flag.
Team standings (after Rd 5):
1. Porsche Formula E Team, 126pts 2. Envision Racing, 84pts
3. Avalanche Andretti, 80pts
4. McLaren Formula E Team, 66pts
5. DS Penske, 61pts
DID YOU KNOW?
It’s safe to say that the continent of South America contains some pretty big cities. However, none are bigger than the home of this weekend’s E-Prix.
That’s because São Paulo is the most populous city in the Americas, the western hemisphere and also the southern hemisphere. Among its more than 12 million inhabitants includes approximately 1.6 million Japanese-Brazilians living in São Paulo, making it the largest concentration of individuals of Japanese descent outside of Japan.
WHEN AND WHERE TO WATCH THE SÃO PAULO E-PRIX(All times GMT)
Free Practice 1 Friday24 March – 19:25 – 20:15
Free Practice 2 Saturday 25 March – 10:25 – 11:15
Qualifying Saturday 25 March – 12:40 – 13:55
E-Prix Saturday 25 March 17:03 – 18:30
Follow Envision Racing at the Cape Town E-Prix and throughout the 2022–23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship HERE
ANOTHER PODIUM FOR CASSIDY BUT IT COULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH MORE IN SOUTH AFRICA
25 February 2023
ENVISION RACING’S NICK CASSIDY CLAIMED 3RD AT THE CAPE TOWN E-PRIX AS THE TEAM LEAP UP TO 2ND IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
Throughout the two days of the inaugural Cape Town E-Prix, Envision Racing, and in particular Nick Cassidy, looked to be among the favourites for victory come race day.
From qualifying third to leading the early phase of the race, Cassidy continued Envision Racing’s early season promise. At the end of a dramatic and memorable first time out in South Africa, took a well-deserved third place, in a race where the two championship leaders failed to score any points, throwing the battle for both the Drivers’ and Teams’ titles wide open.
The result gives Cassidy his second consecutive podium, following a stellar performance last time out at the Hyderabad E-Prix, however for team-mate Sébastien Buemi, the bad luck would continue.
Having cruelly been denied a podium finish in India, Buemi fought back from a practice crash to make the qualifying duels, qualify seventh, and in the E-Prix looked good to join Cassidy in fighting for the top three, if not victory.
These hopes were seriously dented by a wayward Pascal Wehrlein, who smashed into the Swiss driver on just the second lap of the race, forcing him to turn in a calm and measured drive to power from 15th to fifth at the flag.
It was big drama from the start of the very first Cape Town E-Prix weekend for Envision Racing. In free practice one, Buemi crashed heavily, necessitating a heroic repair job from the team, and in the second practice session, team-mate Cassidy posted the fastest time, underlining the pace of the Jaguar I-Type 6.
Heading out in qualifying Group A, Cassidy loitered near the top of the timings. With a couple of minutes remaining, the Kiwi set the fastest time, ending up second at the session’s close to get a chance to fight it out in the duels.
Playing catch-up, Buemi shrugged off his practice woes, and during the opening minutes of Group B qualifying showed good pace. So good in fact, that the Envision Racing driver clocked the third quickest time, once again progressing alongside team-mate Cassidy, as the session ended prematurely following a nasty collision between Edoardo Mortara and Sam Bird.
In the first quarter final Cassidy faced off against championship leader Wehrlein, dominating the German driver and making it into the semi finals for the first time in 2023. Buemi followed Cassidy out in the third quarter final, taking on Mitch Evans. What started as a tight battle ended when Buemi tapped the wall at turn 7, meaning the Envision Racing driver would end up seventh on the grid.
For Cassidy, it was the semi finals. The opposition, Sacha Fenestraz in the Nissan. Despite catching a rapid Fenestraz in the second half of the lap, Cassidy couldn’t beat the evential pole-position winner to progress into the final, but nevertheless secured a superb third on the grid.
Cassidy made a lightning start, briefly overhauling second-place driver Maximilian Günther, but being forced to settle for third as the cars snaked through the opening sequence of turns.
There was huge drama on the second lap as Buemi, starting seventh and looking to fight his way to the front, was brutally taken out by an out-of-control Wehrlein at turn 10. The collision forced the Porsche driver into retirement, and Buemi down the order to 15th place, triggering a safety car.
Following a three-lap clean-up operation it was game on again, with Günther leading pole-sitter Fenestraz and Cassidy as the race settled down into a waiting game amongst the 15 remaining cars.
By lap eight, Cassidy found himself under pressure from the sole Jaguar of Evans. A lap later, Cassidy slipped into second place, and looked strong, as Fenestraz took his first Attack Mode.
Second place became first as leader Günther took his initial Attack Mode on lap 10, and crucially, the Maserati driver found himself in a close-quarter battle with Fenestraz, allowing Cassidy to pull away and lead a race for the first time this season.
Cassidy elected to take his first Attack Mode phase on lap 14, maintaining his place at the front of the field ahead of Fenestraz and Günther. By the halfway point, the battle was on as Fenestraz keenly pursued leader Cassidy.
On lap 21, Günther’s hopes of victory ended with a crash, promoting António Félix da Costa to third and leading to a full-course yellow. As the race got back underway Cassidy held his lead from new second place man da Costa, with just 1.5 seconds covering the top six cars.
Da Costa used all his skill and experience to pass Cassidy on lap 24 with an artful move, pushing the Envision Racing driver to second, which soon became third as Jean-Éric Vergne took second to set about chasing down da Costa.
As Cassidy moved backwards, team-mate Buemi surged forwards. Recovering from his early-race misfortune, the Envision Racing driver held eighth approaching the closing laps with seventh place and Stoffel Vandoorne in sight.
On lap 28, the Hyderabad E-Prix winner Vergne snatched the lead as da Costa took a late Attack Mode. For Cassidy the focus was now on holding third place and resisting the challenge of Fenestraz.
Two laps later, and with little to choose between remaining battery power, Cassidy lost out to the Nissan of Fenestraz, as the leading duo of Vergne and da Costa pulled away. As the race entered the final two additional laps, da Costa repeated the breathtaking move he pulled earlier in the race on Cassidy to lead from Vergne.
On the final lap, behind the fireworks at the front, Cassidy dramatically retook third as Fenestraz spun at turn 7, meaning the Envision Racing driver just had to fend off Rene Rast in the McLaren to take a second podium on the bounce. Cassidy successfully held on to take a well deserved podium as da Costa triumphed ahead of Vergne.
“I think we have to be happy with the result today,” said Cassidy. “Whenever you finish third in Formula E you have to be happy and I have to walk away with a smile. Part of me thinks we should have won that race, and the full-course yellow really hurt us and it changed the energy of the race, but that’s motorsport.”
Behind Cassidy, Buemi did exceptionally well to battle back to a brilliant fifth to score vital points for his championship hunt and the Team’s Championship standings. That first victory of the year continues to elude Envision Racing, but the team have shown to be genuine frontrunners, as they head to another new track in Brazil for the Sao Paulo E-Prix.
“What a weekend it has been in Cape Town, a fantastic track and a fantastic venue,” said Sylvain Filippi, Director & CTO at Envision Racing. “It all started with quite a challenge following Seb’s crash in practice, and the team did a brilliant job to rebuild the car overnight. As soon as we overcame that we were fast all weekend with both cars reaching the duels in qualifying.
“In the race, Seb was unlucky to be tagged, but put in an amazing recovery drive, and Nick finishing on the podium again, plus two cars in the top five is a fantastic result.”