Teammate crash at Envision shatters Cassidy's Formula E title dream: "Maybe I'm too good a team player"
Saturday's Formula E race in London could hardly have been more dramatic. One decisive scene unfolded shortly before race half-time: favorite to win Nick Cassidy collided with his own Envision teammate Sebastien Buemi! A completely unnecessary accident that prematurely dashed Cassidy's championship hopes. After the race, both drivers deeply regretted the collision.
In the opening stages of the Hankook London E-Prix, things could hardly have gone better for Envision: Pole-sitter Cassidy maintained his lead, and Buemi overtook Jake Dennis for second place right at the start. In the opening laps, the Swiss driver was able to cleverly block Dennis, giving Cassidy an advantage that the New Zealander knew how to use. Despite driving through the Attack Zone, Cassidy remained out front.
After his second Attack Mode activation, however, Cassidy dropped back behind Buemi to bring him in an ideal position too. Both were still ahead of Dennis, but the Briton was putting on the pressure. Cassidy soon wanted to pass his teammate again and kept showing himself in rearview mirror of his teammate. Buemi, however, continued to defend his position and made no move to let the title contender past.
On lap 15, the Envision disaster took its course: Buemi closed the inside lane on the start/finish straight, so Cassidy tried to pass him around the outside. Through turns 1 and 2 the two still went side by side, then Cassidy had to back off before the left-hand turn 3. As he closed in behind his teammate, he made a minimal misjudgement and touched Buemi's rear with his front wing, damaging it.
A few seconds later, Cassidy's front wing came loose and slid under the Envision car - the moment he lost the still possible world championship title! With smoke billowing out, Cassidy had to pull to the left and get off the throttle. He dropped to the back of the field and dragged himself to the pits. Although he was given a new front wing once again, he returned to the Envision pit on lap 23 and eventually retired the car.
Cassidy dismayed: "In Rome it wasn't on purpose - today maybe"
How emotional the "Kiwi" was, was shown immediately afterwards in the TV world signal: twice he pushed a cameraman aside, who would not let go of him despite repeated requests. After the race, Cassidy answered questions from various media, including e-Formula.news. "I had already activated my two Attack Modes and I wanted to be nice to my team. So I offered to give up my lead. I lifted and let him (Buemi) pass because we are also fighting for the team championship, and because I am a good team player, I think. Maybe I'm too good a team player."
"I thought I could still win the race," Cassidy explained. "I was just trying to help him." He said he spoke briefly with Buemi after the race, but didn't want to give any further insight into the dialogue. "I didn't have to say much... I'm not here to make negative comments about my team." Nevertheless, Cassidy lets slip how deep the frustration with his teammate runs: "We got one in the nuts in Rome (Mitch Evans crashed into Cassidy) and we got one in the nuts today. In Rome it wasn't on purpose - today maybe."
Buemi: "Would have let him pass, of course"
Buemi also regretted the accident with his teammate in German TV on ProSieben: "If the team had said that I should let him pass, then of course I would have let him pass. We had also discussed it before the race," said Buemi. "But there (in that situation) I didn't really understand what he wanted to do. It's so tight and difficult to let someone past in turns 3 and 4."
ProSieben expert Daniel Abt had clear words after the race about the action of Buemi, with whom he had also clashed several times during his active Formula E days. "I honestly can't understand what he's saying. I don't think his team has to explain to him that his teammate is racing for the world championship. It was clear from the start that Cassidy was attacking and that he wanted to get past him."
"Normally there should have been a swap of positions already laps before," Abt continued. "Then to defend like that, stay on the fighting line, break the front wing... Honestly: It is common racing sense that you don't do that. That was his fault."
"Very sad for the team championship", but Envision still in P1
The London E-Prix had started so well for Envision, Buemi remembers. "We did everything right at the beginning. Nick was able to get his two Attack Modes without any problems, but then everything went wrong. We didn't really understand each other. That's a real shame because we could have scored a lot of points today. It's a podium after all, but of course it's a great shame for the team championship."
Despite the Cassidy DNF, Envision is still on top of the Formula E teams' championship - ironically thanks to Buemi's 15 points. However, the lead over their own factory team Jaguar has melted away and now amounts to just eight points. The title fight will be decided at the season finale on Sunday. Race start in London is again at 6 p.m. (CEST).