Cassidy reveals Fuji fuel-saving ‘miscalculation’

Super Formula frontrunner Nick Cassidy admits his team miscalculated the amount of fuel he needed to make the finish in last weekend's Fuji race, but praised the TOM'S outfit's communication in the tricky wet conditions.

Cassidy reveals Fuji fuel-saving ‘miscalculation’

With Yokohama’s wet compound tyre expected to last the entire race distance, the majority of the drivers were forced into a fuel-saving exercise in a bid to avoid any pitstops.

Cassidy lost touch with the leading pair of Alex Palou and Sho Tsuboi early in the race as he saved fuel, before rapidly closing in on Tsuboi in the closing stages - nearly passing Tsuboi on lap 50 of 52.

The Kiwi said the team’s initial instructions to save fuel were based on the assumption that the race would go to the full distance, before it realised that it would instead hit the maximum time limit.

“We had a miscalculation basically,” Cassidy said after the race. “So I was saving way too much fuel. For maybe 30 laps I was saving too much. 

“Let me just say first, the communication with my engineer and my team in this race was the best communication I’ve ever had in racing in Japan. They were really great. 

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“My race engineer gave me perfect information, my team manager gave me perfect information. We were speaking basically every lap because we weren’t pushing but I had eight to nine seconds behind [fourth-placed Yuhi] Sekiguchi. 

“And I was telling them at lap 15 or lap 20, ‘guys I’m saving so much’. The guys in front, I was watching Sekiguchi [who was running behind], he was not saving. They must be doing one pitstop. 

“They said ‘we are not sure, you need to keep pushing in case’. And we got to lap 30 and basically they said, they mistook that the race will not be full distance. 

“So I was saving fuel for the full distance race. Then we understood that will be two laps shorter, so I could push 100 percent and I went like two seconds faster.”

Cassidy’s second podium finish of the season came on a day championship leader Naoki Yamamoto failed to score points, the Dandelion driver suffering an unforced spin while running in ninth.

That has brought Cassidy’s deficit to Yamamoto down to just five points in the standings, with three races still to run in 2019.

Palou expected first win sooner

Alex Palou, Nakajima Racing

Alex Palou, Nakajima Racing

Photo by: Masahide Kamio

Palou led from start to finish at Fuji to become the first driver to win in his rookie Super Formula season since Pierre Gasly in 2017 - also scoring Nakajima Racing's first victory since 2010.

The Spanish driver nonetheless said he expected to win earlier than the fourth round of the season, particularly after qualifying on the front row at Suzuka and pressuring teammate Tadasuke Makino for victory until a technical failure forced him to retire.

“To be honest a little later than I expected,” Palou said after his Fuji triumph. “When I was at Suzuka, catching Makino with amazing pace. 

“And then I had the issue of pitlane [penalty for incorrect start procedure] then the issue of mechanical failure. I thought Suzuka was our race. 

“I had a few mistakes maybe because I’m a rookie of course. So the first two races I made some mistakes. And finally here we got everything together.

"Hopefully we’ll take the momentum and we’ll continue to be here in the middle [of the podium]."

Additional reporting by Tomohiro Yoshita

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