In the run up to the return of Formula E, Last-Lap is looking at every team and analysing their lineup, their livery and their chances in 2021.

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Something is up at Envision Virgin.

There’s been a changing of the guard at one of the championship’s most successful teams.

Where has Sam Bird gone?

Who is this Nick Cassidy in his place?

Yes, the big change is the departure of Sam Bird who has been a mainstay at the team since Formula E’s first race in Beijing.

Bird has led that team for 6 years now and has taken a brilliant 9 wins and 10 other podiums with a best result of third in the championship in Season 4 where he was one of the only people to take the fight to Jean-Eric Vergne across the season.

Season 6 for Virgin started exceptionally with a win in round 1 for Bird and a fifth place for teammate Robin Frijns.

Bird wins in Saudi Arabia © FIA Formula E

But that was the high point. From thereon in there were flashes of success for the taking but the season was definitely one of missed opportunity.

Sam Bird’s excellent overtake on Andre Lotterer at Mexico (one of the best in Formula E, fact) was where the high points seemed to end.

Afterwards it was consistent points but that was it. A win never truly looked on the cards since.

With a new rookie who’s been linked to Formula E for a long time finally joining the series with Virgin and a now team leading Frijns, Season 7 could be very fruitful for Virgin, but could also be a struggle.

Robin Frijns, Envision Virgin Racing © FIA Formula E

The Drivers

The insanely popular Robin Frijns is entering his third season with the team and is suited to taking over leadership from Bird.

Frijns came into the team at the start of the Gen2 era in 2018 and in Season 5 finished as the lead Virgin driver winning twice in a brilliant drive at the hail effected Paris E-Prix and took a second victory at the final weekend at the first New York race.

His Season 6 took a while to get off the mark but when it did he put in some fine performances proving his intelligent racing and his exceptional understanding of Formula E.

Nearly winning on the line in the third Berlin race was judged to near perfection and was one of the most accomplished drives put in that week.

“We ended the season well in Berlin and as a team we’ve been working hard over the last few months to make sure we’re as prepared as possible heading into season seven.” said Frijns in the off season.

“I believe that Audi Sport have provided us with another competitive package and I’m looking forward to the first race of the season.”

Robin Frijns talks to Nick Cassidy © FIA Formula E

Nick Cassidy is some of the hottest property joining the FE grid since Felipe Massa hopped over from Formula 1.

Hopefully Cassidy’s tenure can yield a bit more success and looking at his form, there is every reason to expect it to.

Super Formula champion, Super GT champion and the Japanese F3 champion allowing him to complete the Japanese triple crown at only 26.

There is a lot of excitement about his debut in Formula E and Virgin. Cassidy even set a new lap record at the Marrakesh E-Prix on his maiden Formula E outing during a rookie test with the team back in March, in which he comfortably topped the timesheets.

“The team is one of the most successful on the grid, have a great set-up and facilities, and have continually impressed me since I joined them for the rookie test back in March. All drivers know the depth and quality of the field in Formula E is among the best in the world, so it is great to be adding my name to this roster.

“Racing in Japan has been an amazing experience and I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to achieve so much in a short space of time, but I feel it’s now time for the next challenge in my career and I’m very much looking forward to doing that with Envision Virgin Racing and Formula E.”

Nick Cassidy, Envision Virgin Racing © FIA Formula E

The Car

A Formula E classic.

Just shinier.

A shiny classic. All boxes checked.

This will be sexy under the lights in Diriyah.


How will Season 7 go?

Losing Sam Bird on the surface is a blow to Virgin’s chances going into 2021.

The team has a sort of exposed feel about it now that they don’t have the marker of Bird.

Frijns and Cassidy is a pairing that can deal with this comfortably. Both drivers are fast, both are unpredictable and both can be team players. It is the best outcome for Virgin.

The car has been consistently fast, since they were a works outfit for DS and a customer Audi team, they have been able to win races and fight for podiums.

Nick Cassidy in Valenica © FIA Formula E

If that changes then this year is a failure, Virgin need to be fighting for podiums regularly.

Race 1 could be excellent for them with a rookie driver.

Cassidy will be in Group 4 and if his Marrakech test pace is anything to go by, he could be challenging for SuperPole easily in his first ever race.

The start of the season is where Virgin must lay a marker. That is where their advantage lies.

They won the first race in 2019, they should be aiming to do the same.

Virgin are one of Formula E’s most popular teams and either driver would be a hugely well received champion.

The championship is not beyond them. It’s alluded them so far but they have the pace, they have the slick skill.

A lot of people will be rooting for Virgin, and rightly so.

Robin Frijns © FIA Formula E

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