"He's on drugs!" - Nick Cassidy explains team radio spat in Berlin & journey from "no man's land" to title contention
86 points in five races, celebrating his second Formula E victory and World Championship position 2: Nick Cassidy has been riding a veritable wave of success in recent weeks. For things to go so well, the New Zealander explains, it took a combination of factors. He dismisses the alleged team radio dispute with Sebastien Buemi, which seemed to rage at the Berlin E-Prix, as ironic comments.
Perhaps it is because of his reticence towards the media, through which Nick Cassidy hardly seemed to appear in the 2023 Formula E season. When the 28-year-old speaks with his likeable Kiwi accent, and that has happened more often in TV interviews in recent weeks, he is among the quietest drivers in the series' field. Friendly, but almost unintelligible and with a trembling voice, he then explains why things sometimes go well and sometimes badly on the course.
Cassidy exemplifies the motto used tiresomely often by racing drivers: "I let my performance on the track speak for me." And that's what he's delivering this year. He finished four of the last five races on the podium, and after Sunday's race in Berlin, he celebrated his first win of the year extensively with his team.
Cassidy now Wehrlein's number 1 chaser
"Actually, I just want to race, I don't care what people think," Cassidy told 'e-Formula.news' about the limited attention his results have received so far. "Porsche always had a very good package, so it's natural that everyone was just talking about them. But it's even nicer that we can give them a run for their money."
Statistically, the start of the 2023 season was his most successful to date in Formula E. "Last year, I was partly in no-man's land with my pace, and partly it went similarly well as this season. There are many factors that influence something like that. I'm the first to admit that luck is one of them. But I'm also fast on the track and more experienced than ever, I have a good package and a team that works well together. All those things fell into place over the last five or six races."
Team radio dispute with Buemi: "If my mother was a man ..."
Formula E themselves, however, have questioned how well the Envision team harmonizes. On their social media channels, they uploaded a video which featured a team radio recording of Cassidy scolding teammate Sebastien Buemi during 3rd Free Practice. "Oh, that was very nice of Seb. What a great teammate," Cassidy said wryly.
"Ah, what's he doing, seriously! The guy's been on drugs since yesterday. He'll tell me later in the debriefing, 'Ah yeah, if it wasn't for Stoffel I would have been P1, but I had traffic! If my mother was a man,' blah, blah, blah," he then imitated Buemi with a French accent. The clip has since garnered around 370,000 views on Twitter, making it the most viewed Formula E video post of the Berlin weekend.
In a virtual media roundtable that included 'e-Formula.news' this week, Cassidy affirms, "Half of it was meant to be funny and sarcastic. The people who know me know that, too. But when you transcribe it and you don't know my personality, unfortunately it doesn't come across that way. I have to apologize for that. Even if it came across differently in this video, we get along very well!"
Envision team boss plays down incident
For the championship, the clip was "good for social media. The video made the rounds and generated attention. I think that helps the growth of the sport," Cassidy says. Envision team principal Sylvain Filippi also tried to downplay the incident over the weekend. "The guys are getting along fine, everything is good," he said in an interview for the English-language TV World Signal. "When you have a car that can win races and championships, the emotions and pressure are greater. That's quite normal."
"My job is to calm that frustration a bit and make sure everyone is focused on their job. But with me, I'd rather have (the rivalry) and a fast car than the other way around," Filippi said.
Cassidy in the thick of the title fight: "What we lack is consistency"
So, behind the scenes at the garage, Cassidy is clearly not as reserved as he is with microphones and camera lenses in front of his face after all. That's just as well, given his no less temperamental teammate Buemi or the title fight that's coming to a head: After Berlin, Cassidy is only four points behind championship leader Pascal Wehrlein (Porsche). For team boss Filippi, too, the most important thing with his driver pairing is: the pace has to be right.
"We've had a couple of good races, but we still have to iron out mistakes," Cassidy swears his racing team in for the next race in his adopted home of Monaco (May 6, live on ProSieben). "What we've been lacking lately is consistency. That's what we're working on."