This weekend sees the delayed 2020/21 Formula E world championship swing into gear with a pair of races under lights in Diriyah, Saudi Arabia.
Fan of the category or not, this year’s championship has the all-electric series joins the likes of the Formula 1 as one of only a handful of pukka FIA world championships.
For Kiwi fans, there is every reason to stay tuned the season. Counting New Zealand-raised Tom Blomqvist as one of own, the Land of the Long White Cloud is the third most represented nation on the grid.
Here is a quick guide to those trio of Kiwi drivers.
Evans enters his fifth season in Formula E off the back of a turbulent 2019/20 campaign. The 26-year-old Aucklander was briefly leading the championship. Then, before the season was suspended amid the pandemic, Evans was within touching distance of eventual champion Antonio Felix da Costa.
However, some rotten luck over the final six races at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport had Evans slump to seventh by the end of the year.
The disappointment of having his best shot at winning the title slip from his grasp left Evans downcast for several weeks.
“I’ve not felt that hurt for a long time. It hurt for weeks,” he said.
“When you see something so close… but every race, it just seemed to drift away. We sort of handed it to da Costa and Techeetah. It was a real disappointment. It hurt.”
Hopefully, the frustration of last season serves as motivation to succeed in 2021. Jaguar Racing now relies on Evans as the de facto team leader. The outfit has also recruited series veteran Sam Bird to race alongside the New Zealander.
Bird has won at least one race in every Formula E season since its inception in 2014. His wealth of experience will come in handy as he and Evans look to guide the British marque to its maiden crown.
Cassidy will be racing with Envision Virgin for his debut season as one of three rookies in the field.
Envision Virgin has struggled in recent years to string together a reliable and competitive package. Thus, they have called up Cassidy from the ranks of Super Formula in Japan to bolster their performances.
Cassidy electrified the paddock in a rookies’ test last year at Marrakesh, re-setting the lap record in his first outing in the car. The 26-year-old later said that the team’s pursuit of excellence enticed him to sign a contract to race in 2021.
“I wanted to join Virgin for a reason. They are a tightly-knit group of people who are very intelligent, very efficient and for the number of days we do get, certainly from what I’ve seen so far, they have been used very wisely.”
He leaves behind a dazzling career in Japan, headlined by claiming titles in Super GT, Super Formula and Japanese Formula 3, to tackle a new challenge.
Asked why he opted to take on Formula E, Cassidy said he felt there was no more he could achieve in Asia.
“I was in a position in Japan where, strangely, I had kind of achieved everything I could.
“I wanted to put myself against the best in what’s become one of the world’s leading championships.”
Blomqvist will race this year under a British race license, but that doesn’t take away that he spent several years of his childhood forging his talent in New Zealand.
A Kiwi karting champion, Blomqvist has since made a name for himself on the GT and touring car stage with tilts in the World Endurance Championship and DTM.
Blomqvist will start his first full Formula E season in 2021. Last season, Jaguar Racing drafted him in for the final two races at Berlin to replace James Calado.
Before that, Blomqvist contested six races with Andretti Autosport with a best result of eighth on debut in Marrakesh.
NIO 333 have scooped up Blomqvist’s services for Season Seven. The team failed to score a single point last year in what was their worst performance to date.
However, the team has opted to homologate a new power train this year, one of only a few teams to do so. Blomqvist has also racked up nearly 1000 miles of testing ahead of the Diriyah opener, undergoing a rigorous pre-season regime.
Fan boost opened today for people to vote for their favourite driver. The top-three receive an increase in power during the race.