Nick Cassidy admits the season-opening Super FORMULA round from Twin Ring Motegi was the most soulless race of his career, emphasising the downward spiral the sport has taken since an introduction of a radically different race format for 2020.
Cassidy sat in tenth for the vast majority of the 35-lap race, only making up spots courtesy of his rivals’ misfortunes which involved colliding into one another and suffering mechanical problems to eventually cross the line in sixth.
But this year’s Super FORMULA looked incredibly different to the past few seasons. Race distances have been slashed almost in half with pitstops no longer mandatory due to an outgoing of dual compounds.
Consequently, it meant the 16-car field circled the Motegi circuit for the entire race at a drastically slow speed as they nursed their rubber. Lap times were upwards of eight seconds down on the pace shown in qualifying and overtakes were incredibly sparse across the field.
Taking to Twitter afterwards and an interview with Motorsport.com, Cassidy quipped the tedious nature of the race nearly put himself to sleep.
It was the most boring race of my life,” Cassidy said. “When I cleared that group [for tenth], I was going 1.5 seconds a lap faster.
“My pace was better than the leaders, the only person faster than me at that point was Nirei Fukuzumi. So we were both hunting down the top four.
“Actually the first part of the race, having to chill out and wait for things to happen, it just killed us. But it is to be expected when you qualify 11th.”
“I didn’t even bother [trying to pass], I thought I’d wait for the last 10 laps and in the end the group sorted themselves out. Then I could push.
“At the end my tyres were ok, on the last lap I did my personal best lap of the race by 0.8s.”
Cassidy’s comments are just one of many from drivers complaining about the processional nature the new race formats.
But the Kiwi also conceded his team’s performance over the weekend was a step behind the front runners which made the race even more difficult than it should have been. He insisted significant work is needed to be done between now and the second round of the championship in Okayama on September 27.
“[Qualifying] was really good, we’re just way behind on the car right now. It was a step forward from Friday and Saturday. We got better but it wasn’t enough.
“If we went to Okayama now, it would be the same situation. So we need to work, we need new parts, make some investments and try and make the car better.”
Cassidy also announced over the weekend this season will be his last in Super FORMULA as he prepares to make the switch to Formula E next year.