Formula E has one of the most intriguing silly seasons’ off all every year as tons of drivers want to have a go in the ever-growing series. This year is no different with a whole host of new faces about to compete their first full season in the championship.
Our Last-Lap writers gave their thoughts on which would come out as cream of the crop.
Nick Cassidy will be Formula E’s rookie of the year. The Kiwi jumps into the second Envision Virgin car alongside the experienced Robin Frijns. Cassidy impressed everyone as he topped the timesheets at the rookie test in Marrakesh. Cassidy is a former Super Formula champion who also finished on the podium as a rookie in Macau. That bodes well for several of the FE races if he is comfortable racing on the streets. Envision are serial contenders throughout FE’s previous championships. They are a smart outfit, and Cassidy will thrive.
I think Jake Dennis will surprise people. His racing has not really been in the headline categories, but it has always been good. A superb second place on his Bathurst 12-hour debut stands out as does 3rd in European F3 behind the hugely talented Felix Rosenqvist and Antonio Giovinazzi and beating Charles Leclerc, Lance Stroll and George Russell among others. Dennis has clearly impressed to wedge himself into the BMW seat who had data from two race winners last year to compare him to. He only had one connection at the team but was able to use this to get a simulator test and it all spiralled from there. On track tests which became contract talks and in October he was announced. This author has even tipped him to be in the fight for the win in a car that goes extremely well at Diriyah taking all three poles there in the last three years and with Dennis entering in Group 4, he could impress from the off.
I agree with Tayib. As tempting as it would be to stick to my WEC star and Felipe Massa replacement prediction Norman Nato, I honestly see the most out of Nick Cassidy. I’m impressed by his track record in Super Formula and Super GT, as Tayib mentioned. He has already done some laps in a recent Formula E car at last year’s Marrakech Rookie Test (where he topped the times comfortably) which is very useful experience – just look at how that worked for Sergio Sette Camara in Berlin. With Sam Bird now at Jaguar, Cassidy is the perfect driver to fill that seat at Envision Virgin. He definitely should be aiming for podiums and wins in his rookie year, just like his team-mate Robin Frijns.
The best rookie for me in 2021 will be Jake Dennis. The 25-year-old has come from a background racing sportscars and enters Formula E with a strong team in BMW-i Andretti, who were having a good season until the final race last season. With knowledge of open-wheel cars from Dennis’ previous years, who was Red Bull Racing’s test and simulator driver in Formula 1, and in Formula Renault and GP3, he can take that knowledge and apply it to his race craft in the Formula E car.
Well the good news is there’s only three true rookies, so even without knowing anything about the series you’ve got a better chance of nailing it than getting hearing problems before you turn 70. Apparently.
My gut says Norman Nato but I thought our WEC Editor and guru Mo would have plumped for him, so in the interests of variety I’ll go with Nick Cassidy. A Midlander myself, I’d love Jake Dennis to have a strong year but you can’t ignore Cassidy’s race record… so I’m not going to. (Editor’s Note. And neither did WEC guru Mo in the end.) And Dennis replaced Alexander Sims, who I had an affinity with as a fellow glasses wearer, and that’s not cool Jake.