Kiwi winners were a common trend in the 2022/23 Formula E World Championship, with Nick Cassidy and Mitch Evans winning four races apiece and taking the championship battle right down to the wire.
Half of the season’s 16 races featured a New Zealand flag flying on the podium’s top step, with four of those seeing a Kiwi one-two.
Britain’s Jake Dennis was a deserving championship winner, finishing inside the top four over the final nine rounds. However, the two drivers from Auckland made him work for his spoils.
Both were admittedly slow to get their campaigns underway following difficult rounds in the season-opening Mexico City E-Prix and the doubleheader in Diriyah, but Cassidy went on to showcase the form we are so used to seeing from him from Round 4 and onwards.
The 29-year-old’s first podium of 2023 came in a thrilling Hyderabad E-Prix in India, which Jean-Eric Vergne won in astonishing fashion. Vergne’s energy levels were down to just 1 per cent at the beginning of the final lap, but he held firm for the victory over Cassidy.
Evans had qualified on the pole and had looked set to challenge towards the front until Sam Bird locked up mid-race, slid into the rear of his teammate and knocked him out of contention. Their demise was Cassidy’s gain, with the Envision Racing driver jumping from seventh to a podium place following the incident ahead.
Cassidy was on the podium again the following round, finishing third at the Cape Town E-Prix. Evans was stung with a drive-through penalty for an overpower violation early in proceedings and ultimately came home 11th, still seeking his first podium of the season after five rounds.
His form changed dramatically in Sao Paulo, with a victory from third on the grid, while Cassidy followed him home in second for the first Kiwi one-two of the year. The duo had exchanged places over the closing laps, but the Jaguar driver held firm over four added laps to return to the world-class form fans have come to expect.
Evans doubled down in the opener in Berlin, charging from ninth on the grid for a resilient victory. His compatriot recovered from a mid-race puncture to come home fifth and jump to second in the standings, while Evans jumped to fourth off the back of his two wins in as many races.
Cassidy reduced the gap to the championship lead to four points by winning Race 2 in Berlin, while Evans finished fourth to stamp his mark as a championship contender further.
Then came a stunning Monaco E-Prix on the famed street course in Monte Carlo.
Cassidy jumped to the top of the standings with victory, proving passing on the tight circuit was possible, and jumped from ninth on the grid for the spoils, topping Evans for a famous Kiwi one-two.
A difficult Jakarta E-Prix doubleheader followed for both drivers, the sole highlight coming through Evans’ third in Race 2.
However, the form quickly returned in Portland, with Cassidy taking the win, having qualified tenth, and returning to within one point of the championship lead. Evans started from the rear of the grid after missing qualifying and moved through the field to come home fourth and keep his championship hopes alive.
A doubleheader in Rome contrasted fortunes across the two races, with Evans topping Cassidy for the third Kiwi one-two of the season in the opener before disaster struck in Race 2.
Cassidy’s runner-up result returned him to the championship lead with just three races to run, but those hopes took a massive turn the day following when Evans uncharacteristically locked up and slid into the rear of his compatriot on Lap 2 while both were running in the top four.
Evans was withdrawn from the race, while Cassidy’s damage knocked him out of contention.
Further despair was on the cards in the penultimate race of the campaign in London, which saw Dennis crowned the champion after Cassidy and his teammate Sebastien Buemi came together while battling for a podium spot. The Kiwi had looked set to take the title battle to the season’s final race but was instead left watching from the sidelines as his rival claimed the crown.
Evans’s victory in the race offered some respite for Kiwi fans, elevating him to second in the standings at his compatriot’s expense.
With only pride left to play for in the Driver’s Championship, attention turned to a tight Team’s Championship battle that had Cassidy’s Envision Racing topping Evans’s Jaguar TCS Racing by two points.
Cassidy delivered the win to claim the title for his outfit, while Evans, finishing second, made for the fourth Kiwi one-two of 2023. Dennis rounded out the podium to finish the season with a 30-point advantage over the field, while victory in the finale elevated Cassidy to second over Evans.
Both Kiwis join forces at Jaguar TCS Racing in 2024, making for an all-star lineup set to challenge towards the front of the field when the season gets underway in Mexico City on January 13.
The ‘Best of 2023’ series will revisit ten of Velocity News’s most viewed storylines from an incredible year of Kiwis competing abroad.
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