Nick Cassidy was left to watch his Formula E title aspirations slip away after the “easiest podium of the year” got snatched from him by countryman and teammate-to-be Mitch Evans.
Cassidy was vying for the lead of the second Rome E-Prix when Evans lost control of his Jaguar and slammed into the back of the Envision car ahead of him.
The contact vaulted Evans up over the back of Cassidy, before landing against the barrier.
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Evans was unable to finish the race while Cassidy continued to end up 14th.
Neither driver scored points, meaning a massive swing in the drivers’ championship.
Cassidy had come into the third-to-last race of the season with a two-point buffer over Nissan driver Oliver Rowland. That became a 24-point deficit after Rowland won the race.
The reality of the situation was not lost on Cassidy, who has the equal-most wins of anyone this season – tied with Evans on three.
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“Just a very tough one to swallow. Very, very heartbreaking. But that’s the way it goes,” said Cassidy, who is reportedly set to join Jaguar in 2024.
“I can’t really tell you too much. I was obviously second at the time. I went to the outside of Jake (Dennis). I don’t really know what happened after that.”
Despite the field bunching up under the safety car, which gave Cassidy a chance to make ground, the 28-year-old said he couldn’t bridge the gap.
“The thing is, with today’s race, it was much shorter than yesterday’s, so the pace was more flat out and that means that there’s not really much lifting around a track like this,” he said.
“It’s very difficult to overtake. Even with the speed in our car – which today was probably the best of the season, so full credit to my team – it made it very difficult to overtake.
“At the same time, it was probably going to be our easiest podium of the year. It was the one race of the year you need to start up the front. A bit disappointing with that result, I guess.”
Evans took blame for the incident.
He had come into the penultimate event as a title contender, although the latest incident makes his task at the London E-Prix an enormous one.
He trails Rowland by 44 points with a maximum of 58 points on offer.
“They slowed up a lot more than I was expecting, and I reacted to it but then I locked the rears and once I locked the rears I just went into Nick,” said Evans of the incident.
“When I rode the wheel, it just exaggerated everything, it escalated the situation.
“Very minor thing and then, it just shot me over the top of him and took me out of the race, pretty much took him out of the race as well. Just a really shit situation.
“Obviously I’ve got to take it on the chin, and I’ve got to put my hands up but it’s not like I was doing anything weird or trying to do anything dirty. I’ve barely touched a car the whole year.
“I just feel bad for taking me out of the race for my team as well. Probably more so for Nick because he did nothing wrong and with Jake winning it’s really damaged his chances.”
The FIA Formula E World Championship season finale takes place on July 29-30.
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