13 Jun 21
- FAN ZONE
25 May 21
FIAFormulaE.com takes a half-term look at how rookies Jake Dennis (BMW i Andretti Motorsport), Nick Cassidy (Envision Virgin Racing) and Norman Nato (ROKiT Venturi Racing) are getting on as we head into the second half of the 2020/21 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.
Jake Dennis burst onto the Formula E scene as something of an unexpected choice for BMW i Andretti, but it’s fair to say he has firmly made his mark already, scoring a Julius Baer Pole Position and a race win after only seven races in the all-electric series; something that not many Formula E drivers can claim for their debut seasons.
His inaugural Formula E season has, of course, not been without its ups and downs. After a solid performance for his debut in Diriyah, qualifying 14th and moving up to 12th at the chequered flag, his next two race outings in Diriyah and Rome were less commanding, with low qualifying results and two unfortunate DNFs.
Dennis took it in his stride and came back with focus and determination. Round 4 saw him come from the back of the grid to finish just outside the points in 13th, making up a staggering 11 places in the race.
From there it just got better for the 25-year-old Englishman, as he secured his first points at the DHL Valencia E-Prix finishing eighth from 14th on the grid. Then came Valencia Round 6 where he secured his first Julius Baer Pole Position and converted it into a race win against all odds and expectations.
After the first half of his debut Formula E season, the Brit sits an impressive 10th in the overall Drivers' standings and tops the rookies. With promising pace and improving consistency all the time, he has firmly put himself on the map amongst such tough competition.
Nick Cassidy's arrival into Formula E with Envision Virgin Racing was eagerly anticipated. Not only did the New Zealander impress after setting an unofficial lap record in last season's Marrakesh Rookie Test, but he joined the all-electric series after securing the Japanese motorsport 'Triple Crown' of Super GT, Formula 3 and Super Formula titles.
With Sam Bird departing the Virgin squad, these accolades made Cassidy a hot property for the British outfit, however, his all-electric racing career got off to a shaky start.
The opening three rounds in Diryah and Rome were difficult, as he was left in the wake of his more experienced teammate Robin Frijns who logged solid points finishes with second and fourth place finishes in Rounds 2 and 3. However, in qualifying for Round 4 at Rome, Cassidy showed impressive pace and out-performed Frijns by over five seconds to take a debut pole.
Unfortunately, this race was not to be for the New Zealander, after taking an early lead in the race, his brakes locked due to a suspected software issue and after dropping back, he was involved in another collision later in the race forcing an early retirement.
Again though, like Dennis, Cassidy was able to bounce back from bad luck and get some solid points with a fourth-place finish in the next race in Valencia. He then showed an impressive race prowess by climbing through the field and making up 10 places in Round 6, coming from 23rd on the grid to finish 13th.
He rose to the Monaco spectacle effortlessly, scoring more points in the Principality finishing in eighth, and he currently sits 17th in the Drivers' standings. There is more to come from Cassidy, so watch this space.
Norman Nato has been around the Formula E paddock since 2018 as Reserve Driver for ROKiT Venturi Racing. Since stepping up to a full-time race seat this season the 27-year-old Frenchman has shown promising pace, consistency, and points-scoring ability.
In Round 4 at the 2021 Rome E-Prix, Nato qualified second on the grid and finished on the podium in third, however, he was later disqualified after overconsuming energy.
Valencia saw another penalty take away another podium opportunity for Nato, the Frenchman crossing the line in second but ultimately demoted to fifth for causing a collision with Mahindra Racing's Alexander Lynn.
Although Nato has faced teething problems with energy management and some rather robust passes, he's broadly stayed out of trouble. The Frenchman has shown impressive race pace and has made it into the Super Pole shootout on three occasions this season, more than any other rookie driver.
Boasting the most Formula E experience of any of the rookies, Nato is certainly one to watch as we head into the latter half of Season 7. Although he currently sits 23rd in the Drivers' standings, it’s surely only a matter of time before the Frenchman turns that pace and promise into silverware.
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