Nick Cassidy (Envision Racing) took his first Formula E race win in the New York City E-Prix, heading home ahead of Lucas di Grassi (ROKiT Venturi Racing) and teammate Robin Frijns as torrential rain deluged the track late in the race, creating the most dramatic finish of the season so far.
In the final 10 minutes of the scheduled 45-minute plus one lap race, a storm swept in with heavy rain buffeting the Brooklyn street circuit, leaving pools of standing water in the braking zone to Turn 6.
A full-course yellow was called but Cassidy, di Grassi and Vandoorne — as well as Edoardo Mortara (ROKiT Venturi Racing) — couldn’t help but aquaplane straight on and into the wall. More drivers fell foul in impossible conditions as the race was brought to an early conclusion with a red flag.
Before the rain came, Cassidy had started from Julius Bar pole position for the first time this season and led from the front through both Attack Mode activations. Di Grassi and Frijns applied pressure from behind as the race headed towards its conclusion with the pair having deposed Vandoorne from second on lap 27 as the points race twisted and turned.
Drivers’ world championship leader Mortara had also worked his way up to fifth with a late second Attack Mode the Venturi driver having missed out on the Duels in qualifying, starting ninth.
The red flag meant the race result was decided on countback with finishing positions defined based on the lap prior to the one in which the stoppage was called, as per article 41.9 of the FIA sporting regulations. The ruling meant the race win went the way of an elated Cassidy, with di Grassi and Frijns rounding out the podium.
“It is such a rollercoaster of emotions,” said Cassidy. “I was pretty calm after everything happened (but) obviously very disappointed initially. It felt like I did everything right today, felt like it was in the bag with ten to go, then it started raining. I was initially very disappointed considering that, but — and I know I’m biased — I think it is the right decision.
“ I said in the garage, ‘Are you sure, are you sure?!’ It is difficult for me to say too much, but I am super happy with the win and I don’t want to talk about the decision making process and all that. But in terms of the race the team did a fantastic job, I had a fantastic car today and I am really pleased especially after last weekend that we could come here and take the win.
Vandoorne wasn’t able to capitalize on his starting grid advantage over Mortara, with the ROKiT Venturi Racing driver coming home in fifth but extending his drivers’ championship lead to 13 points over Vandoorne. Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) managed just 11th and Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah) finished 18th, both outside the points.
That leaves ROKiT Venturi Racing at the top of the Teams’ World Championship standings, 23 points up on Mercedes-EQ which climbs above DS Techeetah.
It’s a busy night ahead for engineers in most of the team garages to prepare for Round 12 and the second race in the New York City E-Prix doubleheader tomorrow.
“The crash today was the strongest Formula E crash of my career, one of the strongest crashes I have had in motorsport — it was well over 15g,” related Di Grassi. “I am fully bruised, my neck, my hands, my legs, but I’m OK. It just shows when you’re not complaining there is nothing you can really do.
“I am happy they gave a red flag and reversed the result of the race — that was the first thing to do. I am happy with the points, but unhappy the car is in complete pieces and that the mechanics will have to work hard to put the car together tomorrow.”