Nick Cassidy has confirmed today that he will call time on his Super FORMULA career at the end of the 2020 season as the defending series champion makes his long-awaited Formula E debut next year.
The Kiwi notched his maiden Super FORMULA title with TOMS last year in a thrilling last race showdown against Noaki Yamamoto at Suzuka. The championship completed the Japanese ‘Triple Crown’ for the 26-year-old with titles in Formula 3, Super GT and Super FORMULA.
But as suggested by Velocity News earlier in the week, Cassidy will start his fourth season in the open-wheel category this weekend at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit and was set to clarify his commitment to the sport moving forward at the event.
Those clarifications have now been unveiled and Cassidy confirmed to Autosport today that he will hang up the helmet on his Super FORMULA career after the 2020 season as he begins preparations for his time in Formula E with Envision Virgin.
“I can confirm this will be my last year of Super Formula,” Cassidy said. “I’ve had a lot of great memories, and the car is very enjoyable to drive.
“The last few years there’s always been some pressure attached and this year I don’t feel that way at all. I’m more or less just looking to enjoy the car and have fun. The mindset is a little bit different, which is a positive thing as well.”
Envision Virgin have remained coy on the details of Cassidy’s Formula E contract but it is believed to run until at least the end of 2022, the last season of the current Gen2 era of car.
Theoretically, given the early finish of the 2021 Formula E season next July, Cassidy could still compete in the category if permitted access to return to Japan.
However, the Kiwi admitted he would rather focus on another stint at Super GT where he also currently competes with TOMs in a GR Supra.
While not the primary reason for his departure, Cassidy demurred the direction Super FORMULA is moving in from 2020 with a drop of pitstops and dual tyre compounds. Shorter sprint-like races have been earmarked for the rest of the season and Cassidy admitted the format will make defending his crown a challenge.
“I don’t think the points structure and the race format will necessarily suit us,” said Cassidy. “My target is the same as the last couple of years, which is to be the top Toyota driver.
“If I can achieve that I think it’s a huge success, as there are a lot of great drivers within Toyota and they are the only people I can compare myself against.”
Cassidy joined TOMS in the Super FORMULA category last season after two seasons with Konda Racing where he finished runners up in 2018.
He finished ninth quickest in a preseason test at Motegi yesterday, four-tenths off pace-setter Yuhi Sekiguchi.
The opening race of the 2020 championship will get underway from 5 pm NZT August 30 and will be live-streamed via YouTube.