There is now a window for Mitch Evans and Nick Cassidy to contest the 66th New Zealand Grand Prix in January after the 2021 Formula E season’s opening round was postponed today.
The Santiago E-Prix was originally slated for January 16-17. It meant it would have been unviable for either two drivers to return to New Zealand in time to quarantine for two weeks and then race in the Grand Prix on January 22-24.
However, the opening Formula E race has been postponed amid a spike of Covid-19 cases in the UK, resulting in the border closures between Chile and Britain.
Six of the 12 teams are based in the UK, meaning staff would not have travelled to the event.
Such a late postponement for the first race of the 2021 season is a bitter blow to the organisers who have already dealt with Audi and BMW’s exits for next season.
Formula E issued a brief statement on social media on Tuesday evening confirming the postponement of the races. They added that the championship was working to reschedule the event for later in the first quarter of 2021.
The statement read: “In consultation with the Santiago municipality, the Santiago E-Prix has been postponed.
“The races will no longer take place as a double-header on January 16 and 17 and we are working with the city to finalise dates on which to stage the races later in Q1 of 2021.”
The 2021 calendar has only been announced in batches with Santiago and Diriyah the only two confirmed rounds before today’s news.
The Saudi Arabian city is not set to host its round until February 26-27. However, it too has suspended all flights arriving from the UK for the immediate future.
For our Kiwi pair, both could now return to New Zealand over early next year, self-isolate for the necessary 14 days and be able to run in the GP at Hampton Downs.
Evans and Cassidy are former winners of the prestigious Grand Prix. The latter is tied as the most successful participant with three race wins between 2012 – ’14.
The two also finished the 2011 Toyota Racing Series first and second in the championship (Evans ahead of Cassidy) against a field that included Daniil Kvyat, Alex Lynn and Scott Pye.
Since launching their international careers in respective fields in Europe and Asia, both have become world stars in their own right and could well be some of the country’s top single-seater drivers at present.
Should they choose to enter this year’s Grand Prix, they would be the latest name etched onto an elite starting list, including several ex-champions such as Greg Murphy, Daniel Gaunt and Ken Smith.