12 Jan 21

Cassidy: 'There's no question Formula E: Accelerate will be a baptism of fire'

The Open Qualifiers for Formula E: Accelerate, the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship's new esports series, are well underway and Envision Virgin Racing new boy Nick Cassidy is getting his eye in ahead of stiff competition from the Formula E grid and some of the best sim racers around.

"There's no question that it's going to be kind of a baptism of fire; converting driving experience into sim racing," said Cassidy, who is really looking forward to sampling rFactor 2's new energy management and ATTACK MODE features which bring the sim ever closer to the real thing.

"I love it, it’s proper next level and it’s bridging the worlds together in a really cool way. I’ve heard how the mechanics will work within the game and let me just say it’s very impressive and super unique - we know it’s a complete first in the sim racing world.

"It’s going to be exciting," continued the Kiwi. "There are a lot of names setting times and it’s such a great platform for people that want to get into sim racing professionally, or for people already involved to get a global championship like Formula E on their CV.

"Using rFactor as a base has helped there too, it’s a platform that everybody can get involved with no matter their equipment and it’s very easy to use. Accelerate is the perfect means to gain exposure and to get the eyeballs looking your way."

Outright pace vs deployable energy

Managing deployable energy and the timing and strategy around when to activate  ATTACK MODE are integral aspects of any E-Prix.

Bringing this into the fold in the sim for Accelerate adds another level of depth to the challenge, and one the rapid sim racers won't be used to from racing elsewhere.

"Neither the sim racers or the pro drivers have had a chance to experience ATTACK MODE and the energy management system in the game and it’s going to be all new from where we were in the Race at Home Challenge," continued the 26-year-old.

"With myself being a rookie, I’d not experienced that competition so having these new features simulated adds another challenge and adds to the excitement – it’ll make it even cooler to watch.

"It’ll be interesting to see how the sim racers get on with the energy management aspect. I don’t know how they’re going to be able to practice that in race weekends. We would go through the loops and activate ATTACK MODE and we’ll develop a bit of a strategy with the engineers.

"The sim racers will have to work on all that themselves, so there’ll be a fair bit of preparation involved and a lot of strategy involved. It’ll need quite a few hours spent on honing this for them to be prepared for the races."

Sim rig to Gen2 drive

Formula E: Accelerate will see a grid made up of the 12 teams from the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, and they are on the hunt for the fastest sim racers to join their ranks alongside their chosen pro drivers.

Racers had the chance to showcase their speed in the Formula E: Accelerate Qualifiers and the fastest three are up for selection by each of Formula E's teams. From there, they'll compete for the chance to win a share from a minimum €100,000 prize pool alongside a real-world drive of a Gen2 car - a unique opportunity that Cassidy says may well be more familiar to them than it might appear.

"There are always going to be differences between the sim and reality," said Cassidy. "But the gap is getting smaller and smaller and you’re starting to get the feeling that it’s getting really close to the real thing.

"The general feeling and balance of the car are similar but what the guys don’t experience from their sim rigs is being strapped in with all the helmet and race suit on with completely different visuals compare to a screen. The driving aspects will be familiar for the winner though when they jump into the real thing."