Evans holds off Cassidy and Bird in final lap thriller in Sao Paulo

Formula E

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Jaguar’s Mitch Evans held off Nick Cassidy and team mate Sam Bird on the final lap to win a hectic Sao Paulo Eprix.

In a race filled with lead changes, Evans overtook Cassidy in the closing laps and then resisted the Envision driver’s attack over the final lap to win by two tenths of a second, with the top three covered by just over half a second at the chequered flag.

At the start, Stoffel Vandoorne leapt out into the lead from pole position with Antonio Felix da Costa holding off Mitch Evans for second place. There was carnage between turns two and three, with Norman Nato, Edoardo Mortara and Andre Lotterer all suffering heavy damage due to the pack compacting before the hairpin, however all three cars continued with Nato recovering to the pits.

On the second lap, Sebastien Buemi dropped to near the back of the field after colliding with Maximilian Guenther as they navigated the turn five-six chicane. Dan Ticktum missed the first chicane at the start of lap three, but came to a full stop on the escape road as per the race director’s instructions before rejoining the track.

At the start of lap five, leader Vandoorne opted to take the first of his four minutes of Attack Mode, surrendering first position to Da Costa but slotting into second ahead of Evans and Nick Cassidy’s Envision in fourth. After his minute expired, Vandoorne slipstreamed the Porsche down the pit straight to retake the lead into the chicane at the start of lap seven. Later in the lap, both Evans and Cassidy would also overtake Da Costa, demoting the Porsche down to fourth.

Sacha Fenestraz stopped his Nissan on the exit of the turn five-six chicane, prompting the Safety Car to be deployed while his car was recovered. The race resumed at the start of lap 12, with Vandoorne leading Evans and Cassidy away.

It became clear that leading the race was becoming a disadvantage for the leader, who had to use more energy than those behind who could coast in their slipstream. This resulted in some very strategic racing, as Da Costa moved his way back up to second place by passing Cassidy and then by the start of the second green flag lap, before Cassidy passed both Da Costa and Vandoorne on the pit straight to move into the lead. However, Cassidy then took his Attack Mode, dropping back to third, before using his extra power to move back into the lead mid way through lap 15.

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The Safety Car was deployed for a second time on lap 16 due to Jake Dennis – the driver sitting second in the championship – stopping on track after he was hit by Dan Ticktum’s Nio at the first chicane and suffering heavy rear damage. After an extended Safety Car period to allow for various pieces of debris to be cleared, the race restarted on lap 19 with Cassidy leading from Da Costa and Vandoorne third.

Cassidy and Vandoorne both took their final three minutes of Attack Mode, dropping to third and fifth, respectively, with Jean-Eric Vergne between them. Vergne soon allowed his team mate through, while Da Costa and Evans both took three minute Attack Mode at the start of the next lap, promoting Cassidy into the lead once more.

Evans was next to inherit the lead, but race control announced that both he and Da Costa were both under investigation for overtaking under yellow flags, with Rene Rast and championship leader Pascal Wehrlein also placed under scrutiny for the same offence. Evans was the last of the leaders to have a final minute of Attack Mode remaining, taking it on lap 24 to drop to second behind Cassidy.

Da Costa made a mistake at the first chicane and missed the corner entirely, dropping from third down to seventh place. Out front, the leaders were beginning to string out, with Cassidy sitting half a second in front of Evans and almost three seconds over Vandoorne in third. As the field began lap 30, Sam Bird moved Jaguar into second and third by passing Vandoorne’s DS Penske.

Four additional laps were added to the race due to the Safety Car periods. Starting lap 32, Evans pulled to the inside of Cassidy along the pit straight and claimed the lead into the first chicane. Cassidy then came under pressure from Bird behind, but managed to hold off the Jaguar’s advances.

Entering the final lap, Cassidy was now putting Evans under intense pressure for the lead. With both drivers holding only one percent of useable energy remaining, Bird used his energy advantage to catch up to the two leaders. Over a tense final lap, Evans absorbed Cassidy’s attacks and crossed the line to claim victory from Cassidy by just over two tenths of a second, with Bird coming home third half a second behind his team mate. Both Evans and Cassidy had used up all their useable energy coasting over the line, but successfully avoided exceeding their limit.

With Evans cleared of overtaking under yellow flags, his victory was confirmed. Behind the podium of Evans, Cassidy and Bird, Da Costa took fourth ahead of the two DS Penskes of Vergne and Vandoorne. Wehrlein finished seventh but remains under investigation, with the two McLarens of Jake Hughes and Rene Rast eighth and ninth. Despite early contact, Buemi claimed the final point in tenth.

Sao Paulo Eprix race results

Pos. No. Driver Team Car
1 9 Mitch Evans Jaguar Jaguar I-Type 6
2 37 Nick Cassidy Envision Jaguar I-Type 6
3 10 Sam Bird Jaguar Jaguar I-Type 6
4 13 Antonio Felix da Costa Porsche Porsche 99X Electric Gen3
5 25 Jean-Eric Vergne DS Penske DS E-TENSE FE23
6 1 Stoffel Vandoorne DS Penske DS E-TENSE FE23
7 94 Pascal Wehrlein Porsche Porsche 99X Electric Gen3
8 5 Jake Hughes McLaren Nissan e-4ORCE 04
9 58 Rene Rast McLaren Nissan e-4ORCE 04
10 16 Sebastien Buemi Envision Jaguar I-Type 6
11 7 Maximilian Guenther Maserati Maserati Tipo Folgore
12 36 Andre Lotterer Andretti Porsche 99X Electric Gen3
13 11 Lucas di Grassi Mahindra Mahindra M9Electro
14 33 Dan Ticktum NIO 333 NIO 333 ER9
15 4 Robin Frijns Abt Cupra Mahindra M9Electro
16 8 Oliver Rowland Mahindra Mahindra M9Electro
17 3 Sergio Sette Camara NIO 333 NIO 333 ER9
18 51 Nico Mueller Abt Cupra Mahindra M9Electro
19 48 Edoardo Mortara Maserati Maserati Tipo Folgore
20 27 Jake Dennis Andretti Porsche 99X Electric Gen3
21 23 Sacha Fenestraz Nissan Nissan e-4ORCE 04
22 17 Norman Nato Nissan Nissan e-4ORCE 04

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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9 comments on “Evans holds off Cassidy and Bird in final lap thriller in Sao Paulo”

  1. Another frantic race, decided in the very last meters!
    So far, Gen 3 is delivering much more interesting races compared to the previous generation of cars.
    The strategic element of the first half was pretty fascinating too, and unlike anything we’ve seen in FE.

  2. I have watched most of the races since the inception of the series, also have been to a few rounds in person. Something definitely is missing from the spectacle. I’m not certain that the electric aspect is the problem, they just feel very sterile and anti-climactic. even processional F1 races, still have a sense of urgency.

    1. Did you bother to watch this race before posting about its review? Or any of this year’s races?
      FE races tend to be a bit quieter in the first half and then very often go crazy in the latter third. So for you to say they feel anti-climatic seems wrong.
      And for you to say they feel sterile compared to F1 seems weird. Apart from soulless DRS passes, the main problem with F1 is the ultra-clean sterility of the manner the cars are driven in the races. Never pushing more than 80%, such that no steering correction is ever made. I live in the hope that Pirelli finally get the boot – shouldn’t be long now.

  3. RandomMallard
    25th March 2023, 20:14

    Really, really enjoyed that. Very good circuit as well, had great racing and actually allowed the cars to reach some proper high speeds, which is something a lot of FE circuits lack. Coupled with the Gen3 cars, there were points in that race where I was, for one of the first times, really taken aback by just how fast they were going down the straights (the use of static cameras definitely helped as well), and I could really appreciate speed of the cars. Of course they’re still not close to F1 speed, but this combination of car and circuit at least looked quick and suited one another.

    1. Thought the second chicane was a bit of a joke. They were basically stopping on the corner and was inviting crashes. Enjoyed the race again. Always nice to see close racing whatever form it is.

  4. I have been following Formula E this year because it has come to my country and I must say there are certain aspects that are really baffling. Considering the São Paulo race for instance, (a) in the early part of the race, nobody was interested in taking the lead because the lead car is punching a hole in the air and losing energy in the process and the cars immediately behind does not want to overtake but sit back in the slipstream and save energy (b) the 4-minute energy boost is not really in sync with most track layouts. I would rather have tracks designed with medium to slow speed corners with one long straight so that the boost can be properly deployed for overtakes (c) Nick Cassidy’s Envision car had a massive jump at one point of the race – while the tracks are mostly street circuits, even then a certain degree of track quality must be maintained with cars racing at high speeds. The non-racing lines are dusty and uneven in most tracks. But there are certain impressive factors as well – (a) particularly where the race director directly on air informs drivers of yellow flags, safety cars etc. (b) actual wheel to wheel racing is comparable to F2 and F3. As the energy storage tech evolves, hopefully there would be more laps and not sprint races.

    1. I don’t really get the point in harmonizing a track layout to Attack Mode. It’s different track by track. Let the drivers make the most out of it and let’s remain diverse.
      That jump really looked horrible. Other than that it’s normal that the tracks are not smooth and dirty off the racing line.
      The races are about 50 minutes long. I think it’s good enough. We have three top single seater series: FE that’s 50 minutes long, F1 that’s 90 minutes long and IC that’s 120 minutes long. I don’t think all should have the same race times. 120 minutes is already almost endurance territory today.

  5. playstation361
    26th March 2023, 18:10

    Very few people getting attracted to FE. I hope Gen 3 is a longer term goal rather than a shorter one. So much craze was being generated for all these things to sustain.

  6. I enjoyed the race yesterday, I would give the race a 8/10, because of the contact in the first few laps, and the ridiculous second chicane

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