Cassidy, fresh off a runner-up finish for Envision Racing in last weekend’s Formula E round in Hyderabad, tested the Honda-powered Ganassi car of 2021 IndyCar champion Alex Palou at Sebring on Tuesday.
Driving the sole Honda-powered car in action in the eight-car test, the 28-year-old New Zealander turned 156 laps of the 1.7-mile short course, and finished the day 0.636s off top spot but within 0.4s of the second place car.
Cassidy, who spent four seasons in Super Formula, winning the championship in 2019, admitted it took a couple of hours to adapt back to powerful open-wheel cars, but that by the afternoon he was able to give his best.
“I was really excited about today because of my Super Formula experience,” he told Autosport.
“I’ve been out of those cars for over three years now, so I definitely needed the morning to blow off the cobwebs. But from lunchtime onwards I felt pretty good, and it was quite interesting to feel the similarities and the differences.
“Because of that Super Formula experience, my neck was fine, but I’ve know this test was coming up so I was putting in the work necessary, and physically I felt fine. In fact the biggest issue was jet-lag.”
Cassidy said the focus of this Sebring outing was running through test items for Ganassi, and had to mould his driving style around the inherent handling traits of an IndyCar rather than tweaking the car to suit him.
The biggest challenge, remarked Cassidy, was the Sebring short course itself – which featured “funky little corners” that he had not been used to in Formula E.
“It was a bit of both, but I was really more trying to adjust myself to the IndyCar,” he said. “The team is very successful, they certainly know what they’re doing, and they had development items that they wanted to go through.
“I tried my best to do that for them, and provide the best feedback I could, and more stick to their plan than change anything for myself. And actually, I think that was good for me.”
Nick Cassidy, Envision Racing
Photo by: Carl Bingham / Motorsport Images
“Sebring has got a couple of funky little corners, and bumps that were just new for me, because our styles of circuits are very different. The car itself is something I felt very comfortable with.”
Should he decide to transfer to IndyCar at some point, Cassidy said that he would be all in and eager to race on all types of circuit – including ovals, which some European-focused drivers transitioning to IndyCar have elected to avoid.
The Kiwi is keeping his options open for 2024, however; he is currently in the third and final year of contract with Envision and, although he admits IndyCar is of interest, he felt “lucky” to be with Envision in Formula E and wanted to ensure his next deal was a long-term solution.
“If I’m going to be here, I’m going to be committed; the Indy 500 is something that everyone should dream to win. It’s one of the biggest races in the world.
“I grew up racing speedway midget cars – on the dirt in ovals. Obviously a superspeedway in an IndyCar is quite a bit different, but I love all oval racing and I wouldn’t be scared of tackling ovals in an IndyCar.”
“I’m keeping my options open, for sure,” he said. “If I look at my career, I’d say I’m quite loyal in terms of the teams.
“I was with TOM’s for six years, I’m in my third year with Envision in Formula E, so I want my next contract to be home for a long time in terms of team and championship.
“I really liked the IndyCar, I think the championship’s really cool, and I like longer races, the refuelling, having to deal with dual tyre compounds, and so on.
“But I’ve got to assess my options and everything’s open, so I’ll have to wait and see. I’m really lucky where I am at Envision, we look really competitive, and the championship’s strong. I’m very positive, but it’s hard to say much more right now.
“What I can say is that it was great today to test for one of the world’s most successful racing teams – a big honour to drive one of Ganassi’s cars.”