until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

Jaguar wins Shanghai E-Prix with Evans but upsets Cassidy

by Matt Beer
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Jaguar’s victory in Formula E’s Shanghai opener with Mitch Evans was tempered by team tactics that left its championship leader Nick Cassidy clearly disgruntled and with a reduced points advantage of 13 over Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein.

Evans, fifth in the championship and 43 points behind his team-mate pre-race, was Jaguar’s lead runner throughout, having qualified third while Cassidy started only 10th.

But while Evans was up front battling primarily the Porsches through the cagey first three-quarters of another ‘peloton’-style race of cars running side by side conserving energy, Cassidy stayed in the midfield until the closing stages and had 1-2% more useable energy remaining than the other frontrunners by the time he made his way into the lead pack.

When Cassidy reached third with four laps to go, Evans was challenging Wehrlein for the lead.

Having felt Porsche had previously held back too long in similar races, this time Wehrlein rued how much time his team was willing to spend in the energy-inefficient position of race leader, meaning he was having to conserve more than the Jaguars going into the closing laps.

A frustrated Cassidy asked “can somebody talk to me?” on team radio as he loomed behind his team-mate while Evans repeatedly attacked the defensive Wehrlein for the lead to no avail. One particular incident at the final chicane in which Wehrlein cut across the grass raised Jaguar’s frustration most of all.

“We’re still holding,” was engineer Phil Ingram’s instruction to Cassidy regarding attacking Evans for second.

“So I’m supporting him [Evans] until the end of the race?” Cassidy asked.

“That’s the instruction at the moment,” came the reply.

Jaguar’s strategy appeared to be that both its cars had a sufficient energy advantage to get past Wehrlein and secure a 1-2 on the last lap. But that didn't reckon with how ferociously Wehrlein would defend his position.

Evans finally made it past around the outside into Turn 1 starting the final lap, with Wehrlein having to back off earlier than he wanted as his energy situation took effect.

He then felt Evans deliberately slowed him to try to let Cassidy get past him too - which Wehrlein firmly resisted.

As Evans headed for the chequered flag, contact in the final chicane meant Wehrlein kept second and Cassidy - bodywork flying from his car - only just held off Oliver Rowland’s Nissan for third.

While Cassidy described Wehrlein’s driving as “so dirty” on the slowing-down lap, his terse post-race interview was more about the frustration he felt at his team for asking him to hang back behind Evans when in a better energy position.

A stern-faced Cassidy responded to all interviewer Radzi Chinyanganya's questions with minimal words, saying first “awesome to get a 1-2… a 1-3” before stating “I had the energy to win, for sure”. Asked to elaborate on his feelings, he simply said “it wasn’t my decision”.

Jaguar's made no secret of its desire to give both its drivers a title shot as long as possible or its strong interest in getting the teams' championship (which it comfortably leads). Team principal James Barclay indicated that Evans being its top driver for most of the race meant Jaguar wanted to prioritise his victory shot but was open to letting Cassidy past him if it felt Evans couldn't have overtaken Wehrlein.

"There's definitely argument to say we could move him up earlier for sure," Barclay said of Cassidy.

"But we had to also give Mitch an opportunity to fight for that way. He'd been racing up there all the way through the race, he qualified P3.

"So just a case of judging it and then saying if we don't think we can get past Wehrlein with Mitch, we're going to let Nick go. Just trying to play the aggregate team game.

"The priority is getting maximum points for the team and not risk potentially an issue.  We held our station at the end and I think it worked out well."

The result may yet change post-race.

Both winner Evans and fifth-place finisher Antonio Felix da Costa are under investigation for ‘leaving the track and gaining the advantage’, and Wehrlein’s last-lap contact with Cassidy is also being probed.

Champion Jake Dennis and polesitter Jean-Eric Vergne were among the other race-long lead protagonists but ended up sixth and seventh in the final shuffle.

Nyck de Vries also managed a spell in the lead in by far the best race of his return to Formula E. His eventual eighth place still “felt like a victory” as he gave Mahindra points for the first time.

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