Nick Cassidy has lambasted Super Formula stewards over drivers not obeying blue flags at Fuji, describing the situation as “absolutely rubbish.”
Cassidy scored his first victory in the Japanese single-seater series last weekend, but lost a significant chunk of time in traffic and was never able to break away from reigning champion Hiroaki Ishiura.
On lap 32, the Kiwi spent several corners lapping Daniel Ticktum, leaving him vulnerable to Ishiura. The two drivers went side by side through 300R but Cassidy managed to brake later into the Dunlop right-hander to keep the lead.
Speaking in the post-race press conference, Cassidy expressed his frustration over lapped cars, saying that at least six of them should be penalised with drive-through penalties.
“I don’t think the stewards want[ed] me to win,” he said. “I spent 15-20 laps behind lapped cars and it really wrecked my race so I’m quite lucky to be here now.”
He added: "If you’re within two seconds you cannot go fast. I went from [1m]26.7s to 27.8s, I’ve lost more than one second and he [Ishiura] is in the same situation.
“He cannot get close to me because of aero, his tyres get hotter. So I was in the perfect situation where I can manage the race and his tyres get hot.
"But then for 20 laps I have the same problem and I’m leading the race. And this is absolutely rubbish that I ask the race direction to get them out of the away but they never get out of the way. There should be at least six cars with drive-through penalties.”
Lapped traffic also took a toll on Cassidy’s tyres, forcing him to pit several laps ahead of Ishiura.
However, a quick out lap allowed him to stay ahead of the Japanese driver, who waited another five laps before making his mandatory stop.
“The problem was the backmarkers screwed my tyres,” he said. “So my softs were finished and he had lot more pace than me at that stage of the race. It was very close the crossover point from lap time to mediums to soft, I was doing 1m28.1s.
“But the important part was I was worried that within one or two laps he would actually pass.
“I knew because he had better pace and he was waiting for me to box and to continue at a higher pace with no traffic. So I had a strategy in my mind. I knew what was going on.
"The team called me [in], I said ‘ok, no stay out’. So we did one more lap and on the next lap I thought I’m in trouble. So in sector 3 I called 'box, box'.
“And when I boxed I knew that it was the most important out lap of my life, so then I was expecting actually him to box maybe next lap but he was quite confident of the pace.
“So he kept going and I realised that in sector three that the medium was quite good for me so the second time I did the same time as softs and then increase the pace.
"So I was just lucky that our medium warm up was quite fast and my out lap was quite good."
Additional reporting by Tomohiro Yoshita