When Nick Cassidy starts his debut Formula E race next January in Santiago, the vast majority of people watching will have seen little of the talented Kiwi racer in action. And that pretty much sums up why the reigning Super Formula champion decided to take the plunge with Envision Virgin Racing, replacing the outgoing Sam Bird, and in doing so give up his status as the number one foreign driver on the Japanese scene.
Last year, when Cassidy wrapped up the Super Formula title at Suzuka to complete the 'triple crown' of Japanese motorsport (following his 2015 All-Japan Formula 3 and 2017 Super GT successes), there was perhaps a feeling that he had pretty much achieved everything there was to achieve in the country, and not long after his 25th birthday.
Armed with a lucrative Toyota contract that afforded him the chance to fight for wins and titles in two of the fastest and most professional categories in the world, nobody would have blamed him for staying put and trying to rack up more titles in Japan. But it had been clear for a while that Cassidy's ambitions went further than that - permanently staying within his comfort zone isn't really his style. Just witness his outings in GT3 machinery last year, or his Asian Le Mans Series LMP2 programme at the start of this year.