Thursday, Oct 24 10:56am
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Third time’s the charm for Nick Cassidy?

Just one race separates Nick Cassidy from ultimate glory in Japan’s iconic SUPER FORMULA single-seater series. 


In what is his third season in the series, Cassidy comes in as one of the favourites for the title. Currently leading the way is reigning champion Naoki Yamamoto (29 points) ahead of Cassidy (28 points) and series newcomer Alex Palou (25 points).


Where: Suzuka Circuit

When: R SUN 6:00 pm (NZST)

How to follow: Live Stream | Live Timing


SUPER FORMULA uses a slightly modified version of the old school Formula 1 scoring system, which offers ten points to the winner, eight points to second, six points to third and so on. However, the final race of the season is extra lucrative with an extra three points on offer for the win. Pole position offers an extra point.


It was those bonus points that ultimately robbed Cassidy of the title last year. Yamamoto won the final at Suzuka while Cassidy finished second. Just one point split them at the end of the season. If not for the bonus points Cassidy would have been champion.


Cassidy has arguably been the better of the two drivers this year. Both have one win and an additional two podium finishes. Cassidy has more points-scoring finishes too, but a bad outing in the penultimate round at Okayama meant he scored no points and now sits one point back of Yamamoto who finished seventh.


There are five drivers with a mathematical shot at the title. Álex Palou of Spain has a win to his name already this season, but a DNF in his maiden appearance earlier this year dogged his championship challenge. Another challenger is Cassidy’s former teammate Kenta Yamashita. He lies fourth after his first win for KONDO Racing at Okayama. Ex-Formula 1 driver Kamui Kobayashi is a distant fifth, ten points in arrears of the lead. He hasn’t had a win so far this season but has two podiums to his credit.


Cassidy has an opportunity to make history this weekend. He began the season with a win at Suzuka Circuit in the first-ever race of the Dallara SF19, now he has the chance to become the first championship winner in the car.


While he hasn’t been the best in qualifying this season, Cassidy’s overtaking ability in the races has been stellar all season. Earlier this year Cassidy claimed victory at Suzuka Circuit ahead of Yamamoto. If the results were to repeat, Cassidy would be champion.


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How can Cassidy win the title?


Regardless of pole positions, a race victory will cement the title for Cassidy. The same can be said for Yamamoto and Palou. It is winner takes all.


Disregarding pole position, if Cassidy finishes second he’ll need Yamamoto and Palou to finish third place or worse. 


If Cassidy finishes third he’ll need Yamamoto to finish fourth place or worse. Palou can finish second but no higher. 


Cassidy can finish fourth but needs Yamamoto to finish sixth or worse. Palou couldn’t finish higher than second.


Cassidy can finish fifth but needs Yamamoto to finish seventh or worse. Again, Palou can’t finish higher than second place.


Cassidy can finish sixth but needs Yamamoto to finish eighth or worse and have Palou finish lower than third.


A pole position for any of the three will change the complexion of the championship picture. Should Cassidy gain pole position he would sit equal first on 29 points with Yamamoto, effectively meaning whoever finishes ahead of the other wins the title, pending where Palou finishes. 


If Yamamoto claims pole position he moves to 30 points. Cassidy would then need to finish second at worst and have Yamamoto finish fourth or worse. 

Photos: TGR