Formula E in London: Nick Cassidy wins season finale on Sunday as Envision takes 2023 teams' championship!
Nick Cassidy has won the 2023 Formula E season finale in London. The New Zealander thus not only secured second in the drivers' world championship, but also enabled his team Envision Racing to take their first world championship title in the teams' classification. Mitch Evans (Jaguar) finished second ahead of Jake Dennis (Andretti) in an otherwise yawningly boring rain race. After being interrupted twice due to adverse weather conditions, the race had started with considerable delay.
The season finale began with an unusual scenario: Because it was raining heavily outside the London Exhibition Hall, the race started behind the safety car. For three laps, the field was initially to follow the Porsche Taycan until Bruno Correia turned into the pit lane for the first time. Then the 22 drivers were supposed to line up on the grid for a standing start.
As pole-sitter Nick Cassidy approached his starting box, however, race director Scot Elkins changed his mind and announced that the safety car would come back out and lead another lap. That wasn't enough. "It's getting worse," Sam Bird reported via team radio. "Stoffel (Vandoorne) in front of me is sliding like a rally driver." Champion Jake Dennis also radioed: "We really can't race in these conditions." On Lap 5, race officials decided to stop the race with a red flag.
After about 27 minutes of interruption, the race resumed - initially for two more laps behind the safety car. However, conditions had not yet improved significantly, so race director Elkins again called out red flags and interrupted the E-Prix. After another 43-minute break with some funny scenes in the pit lane, the race finally resumed at 19:30 (CEST). First, the field again followed the safety car for two laps. Then the racing finally got under way with a flying start on lap eight!
Calm first half of the race, leading duo pulls away
On the first lap, all drivers began by slowly feeling their way to the limit - thanksfully, there were no accidents. Some drivers directly made their ways into the attack zone. There were no position changes on the regular track at first. Jake Dennis tried an attack against third-placed Norman Nato and touched the Nissan, but stayed behind until the latter drove through the attack zone. Out in front, Cassidy and Mitch Evans were in a league of their own and had opened up a lead of about four seconds over Dennis after the first third of the race.
Nothing less than the teams' world championship was at stake between the two New Zealanders. At that point, the Envision customer racing team was seven points ahead of the Jaguar factory team, partly due to the teams' respective No. 2 drivers: Sam Bird was driving in sixth position, Sebastien Buemi was eighth. Cassidy activated his second attack mode just before race half-time and stayed out front.
The top 10 had thus already ticked off all their attack-mode commitments. The adjusted classification on lap 17 of 34: Cassidy ahead of Evans, Dennis, Nato, Vandoorne, Bird, Buemi, Nico Müller and Dan Ticktum, who had made up a place against Edo Mortara shortly before. In addition, Lucas di Grassi showed a maneuver well worth seeing against Jean-Eric Vergne, who subsequently came into the pits and had his tires changed to get more grip.
Cassidy secures runner-up world championship & team title for Envision
Ten laps before the regular end, the leading duo had already opened up a ten-second lead over Dennis. Between Cassidy and Evans the gap increased to a good 2.5 seconds. Otherwise, almost nothing worth mentioning happened on the track. Within our editorial team we were already discussing whether we were possibly seeing the most boring race in Formula E history. Buemi took sixth place from Bird around the outside of turn one and improved the virtual championship position for Envision once again. Bird didn't let up and tried to put pressure on the Swiss, but rather lost ground.
The numerous laps behind the safety car at the start of the race extended the E-Prix by four additional laps. Dennis set the fastest lap. However, he was already 14 seconds off the lead on lap 33 of 38. Nobody came behind him by seven seconds either, until Nato finally followed ahead of Vandoorne. Cassidy was still able to make gains at the front, widening the gap to compatriot Evans to 4.9 seconds in the end.
In the last two laps nothing remarkable happened anymore. Cassidy took his fifth Formula E victory without issues and with it the runner-up spot in the 2023 drivers' championship. He also gave Envision (formerly Virgin) their world championship in the team standings together with teammate Buemi! Evans finished second, as did Jaguar in the teams' world championship, with champion Dennis completing the podium. As a result, Andretti overtook the Porsche works team to finish third overall.
And so, the the 2023 Formula E season came to a close! The 2024 world championship season begins on January 13 in Mexico City. e-Formula.news will guide you through the off-season, however, as usual, including the collective test week from Valencia in October.