When Nick Cassidy joined Mitch Evans at Jaguar ahead of the 2024 Formula E season, there was a sense that we had a new best driver pairing in the championship. Three races, three podiums for Cassidy including victory at the second Diriyah E-Prix. That is some start.
Cassidy has continued 2024 where he left off last season when he missed out on the title to Jake Dennis. He’s driving at an incredibly high level and yes it’s still very early days, but an 18-point lead over the rest of the field is handy.
“Winning in this championship is so difficult that it’s important to celebrate these days because you don’t know when they will come again,” said Cassidy.
“It’s a really positive start. But we have got to stay realistic because there’s 13 races left. It’s a long championship. The standings don’t really mean anything right now but we can take a lot of confidence for sure.”
Cassidy the tactical master
The way Cassidy played his cards in the second Diriyah race was brilliant. Looking at his three wins in the dry in 2023 – in Berlin, Monaco and Porland – he used very similar tactics which a lot of drivers still haven’t got on top of.
Confused? Notice how Cassidy gets to the front in the middle of the race and keeps the field bunched, slowing down his pace. During this phase of the race he’s saving energy and he smartly saves enough so with 10 laps to go, for example, he can basically sprint to the chequered flag.
By driving flat out, it makes the chances of him being overtaken very slim, unless he makes a mistake – which the Jaguar driver doesn’t.
In the Gen3 era where being behind another driver is an advantage, due to the slipstream effect, Cassidy has realised that you can overcome this by keeping the pace slow enough in the middle of the race.
The tricky bit is keeping the lead in that energy saving phase, but everyone else want to stay behind in order to save energy too, but they should be doing the opposite and getting to the front before the final sprint.
Mitch Evans has realised this tactic too, which is why he was so aggressive in the first Diriyah race and went for a lunge on Andretti‘s Dennis for the lead with 23 laps to go. The tight nature of the Diriyah street track exacerbated the need to be out in front for the majority of the race, along with the race distance, which was shorter than the two races in 2023.
This tactic that both Jaguar drivers deploy is hard to execute though and you need a car that is efficient and finely balanced, so you can be smooth and drive full of confidence.
“I’ve got an amazing car, I’m so privileged,” continued Cassidy. “It’s just been a dream start. I’m waiting for a bad day. It’s going to come but for now we ride.”
How will Evans feel?
There’s no doubt Evans will fight back but he will certainly feel different to previous years, where he clearly had the upper hand on former teammate Sam Bird at Jaguar.
The pressure is now on to ensure his 36-point deficit to Cassidy doesn’t grow too big, so any incidents or misfortune will really cost him and the team may even shift their focus to the lead driver in the standings.
Evans surprisingly dropped off the pace halfway through the season-opening Mexico City E-Prix, was maybe overaggressive in the first Diriyah race and unlucky to start down the order in the second Diriyah E-Prix.
His pace is still definitely there though, it’s just he now has a teammate that will punish him when he doesn’t execute.
As defending champion Dennis told Total-Motorsport.com before the season, it will take a better campaign than anyone produced in 2023 to win the title and Cassidy is raising the bar.