Nick Cassidy braced for “tough times” as rookie

Cassidy will make his Formula E debut in the Diriyah E-Prix next week as one of the three ‘true’ rookies on the grid alongside new BMW recruit Jake Dennis and Felipe Massa’s replacement at Venturi, Norman Nato.

A frontrunner in the now-defunct European F3 series, the Kiwi racer has built a name for himself in Japan, winning a title each in Super Formula and SUPER GT as a factory Toyota driver.

But Cassidy admits that acclimatising to an energy management-focused series like Formula E won’t be easy, with tight street circuits that characterise the championship also adding an additional layer of difficulty.

Asked what targets he has set for his first year in Formula E, the 26-year-old told “I haven’t been thinking about the results too much. I think the series has a huge set of new challenges for me so I’m going through the processes of taking as much information as I can. 

“I’ll try to be as ready as we can with the limited preparation there’s been and do the best job I can. That’s more the mindset. I’m prepared for the unexpected and I know that there will be tough times for sure. 

“I’m certainly not expecting it to be easy going. And in that case it would be foolish to expect a certain result, because if we get the processes right anything is possible.

“There are street circuits that we go to this year a lot of guys in the field know from the past like Round 1 [in Saudi Arabia]. 

“But at the same time I have had some decent results and showings on street circuits in the past. So I don’t think that is something I should be worried about. 

“For sure in my first year [there will be] that little bit of extra learning aspect. There’s a challenge, but I’m fully aware of that and I’m ready for that challenge.”

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Due to its status as a customer team, Envision Virgin doesn’t get any additional days to test its FE car privately during the off-season – and instead has to share the manufacturer allowance of its powertrain supplier Audi.

Cassidy admitted that adapting from high downforce cars he’s accustomed to from his days in Japan was made difficult by a limited testing programme over the winter.

“It’s certainly a huge change,” the New Zealander said. “I think Valencia was our main testing which was three days. It’s a very different circuit to what we race on in Formula E. 

“I think I’ve done less than six days total, five and a bit in the car at all. Definitely heading into the first race with not many days, the least of everyone by far, but that’s part of the challenge and I’m up for it.

“I knew that when signing with the team and I wanted to join Virgin for a reason. They are a tightly-knit group of people who are very intelligent, very efficient and for the amount of days we do get, certainly from what I’ve seen so far, they have been used very wisely. 

“It’s a negative not having as many days to be out on track for sure. [But I am] quite proud to be working with the group of people I am and the opportunities that we have been given have been used very well.”

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