A date clash for new Envision Virgin driver Nick Cassidy between the official pre-season Formula E test at Valencia and the final Super GT race of the season at the end of November could end his chance of a second title in the sportscar series.
The Formula E Valencia test is planned to start on Saturday,November 28, and run until Tuesday December 1, with a media day scheduled for November 30.
Normally Cassidy would be slated to take part in the Fuji finale alongside his regular partner Ryo Hirakawa in the Team TOM’s run Toyota GR Supra that weekend.
As it stands, the pair are placed second in the points standings and just one point off the lead with three rounds remaining of the 2020 season – which can be watched live on The Race’s YouTube channel.
Cassidy’s predicament gathers further importance because his FE team Envision Virgin does not get a private test allocation as it is a powertrain customer of Audi.
Audi has previously handed Envision a few test days ahead of the last two seasons, but the allocation has now come down from a total of 22 to 19 for manufacturers that supply other teams. This does not include filming days.
On whether he will be at Valencia or at Fuji, Cassidy says that he “can’t say because I don’t know myself”.
“It was a little bit of a surprise, but at the same time, a little bit expected that there will be some difficulties with testing and finishing the championship, just because of the nature that the season in Japan which now runs longer than it was scheduled to,” Cassidy said.
“So that’s the situation and we’re just trying to work a way around that but obviously not everyone’s going to be happy.”
Additionally, Cassidy has been unable to travel to and from Europe in recent months for any simulator action at Envision Virgin’s Silverstone base due to travel restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This is because although Japan is exempt from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice against all non-essential international travel, returning to Japan involves all the arriving persons “being required to undergo a coronavirus screening test and to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival,” according to government legislation.
However, travelling from Japan to Spain has recently become easier thanks to entry restrictions being lifted for those travelling from several countries, including Japan.
Cassidy says that the challenging travel situation makes it “very difficult for me to get to Europe right now and do any prep, which certainly isn’t making things easy, but that’s just the situation we’ve been given so we have to deal with it”.
Meanwhile, the Envision Virgin team is working on the basis of Cassidy attending the crucial test, with managing director Sylvain Filippi saying last week that “Nick is planned to be at the test in Valencia, despite the clash”.
A compromise for Cassidy to do both events does, theoretically at least, exist. But this would mean only completing a single day of running at Valencia test on the test’s final day. It is believed that’s not considered a viable option for either driver or team.
In the event that Cassidy is unable to attend at all, then possible substitutes for the test could be provided by Audi Sport, which has used drivers such as Mattia Drudi and Kelvin van der Linde before.
Additionally, Audi-contracted driver Benoit Treluyer ran at the 2019 Marrakech test, while Alice Powell, a regular columnist for The Race, did likewise at the corresponding test in February of this year.