Nick Cassidy’s promising but ultimately points-poor start to his Formula E career will deliver a big result sooner or later and Monaco this Saturday could be an unlikely place for that to play out.
Unlikely because Cassidy is one of only three complete Monaco rookies in the 24-driver field. Along with Jake Dennis and Tom Blomqvist he has zero racing miles around the principality to his name.
In racing terms at least the Kiwi has a clean sheet of paper but as a resident of the Principality he knows the streets via his feet and his bike intimately.
“It’s an amazing place, one I love exploring and I guess it’s kind of imprinted in your mind from you were a kid watching it on TV, so actually it’s not super hard to learn I reckon,” Cassidy tells The Race.
“We’re just going to get everything out of our day that we can, and then ultimately who knows how competitive we’re going to be until we roll out and get a gauge in FP1.”
The Envision Virgin Racing driver’s season so far has been eventful. There have been the inevitable thrills and spills that Formula E rookies always go through and he’s ridden them ably – much more so than the results show.
He was on the pace immediately at Diriyah but was compromised by the shabby penalty he and others received for Sergio Sette Camara’s qualifying incident.
The second event brought another penalty while in a strong fourth place – this time for not using his second attack mode before the shortened race was ended by the Alex Lynn-triggered red flag.
Rome was where Cassidy looked like a genuine race winner. He blotted his copybook with a shunt in first qualifying when he should have had a tilt at pole, and then in the race he tripped over Dennis.
But on the Sunday he delivered pole with a finely judged superpole lap, only for his race to be compromised by a braking issue which spun him down the order and into the clutches of a fired up and ambitious Oliver Rowland.
From the lead, @NickCassidy_ spins out and rejoins in the midfield…
— ABB FIA Formula E World Championship (@FIAFormulaE) April 11, 2021
The resulting contact and puncture meant he left with Rome with just those three points for the pole when a hatful was on offer.
The big points of his season so far came in the Saturday energy-crisis race at Valencia but it went downhill again the next day when a potentially brilliant qualifying lap ended in a trip off the road at the penultimate corner – and then a penalty for infringing track limits while going off. An anonymous race at the back followed.
That’s left Cassidy eager for Monaco, his first single-race weekend in Formula E, to arrive.
“The double-headers help you as a rookie going forwards for day two and putting the data together but I’m comfortable now with where I’m at and that from FP1 I can kind of be there more or less, so it’s probably less important now than at the start of the championship,” he said.
“I’m just starting to get more and more out of my package each day and Valencia was probably another step forward although we didn’t get results.”
While the momentum hasn’t built massively since his best performance, on pace at least, in Rome, Cassidy’s street racing chops are strong. His debut showing at Macau in 2014, a race which he was engineered by his Envision Virgin guiding presence Stephen Lane, was impressive.
In a relatively unfancied ThreeBond/T-Sport entry, he finished ahead of current Formula 1 drivers Max Verstappen, Antonio Giovinazzi and Nicholas Latifi to take third behind Felix Rosenqvist and Lucas Auer.
While gaining that overdue big FE result is first and foremost in Cassidy’s mind, he also sees the bigger picture of Formula E despite a difficult start to its world championship status season.
“I’m driving in the series and kind of investing in the series myself, because I believe in it,” he says.
“So, even though it’s not my job, of course, I’m wanting to go to every race and help Formula E out for a good show.
“I think the racing product we have is amazing. All the teams are really high level and all the drivers are really high level. In some ways, as a championship, we’ve been unlucky that this isn’t always shown.
“The fact that you can go into any qualifying session or any race and not know who the top three are going to be is pretty amazing.
“It’s not determined by luck, it is determined by the fact that everyone’s at such a good level, and so close, that things can swing one way or the other pretty easily.”
For Nick Cassidy this weekend a feeling in the paddock is starting to build that he is swinging towards at least a podium breakthrough at his new home from home.