What does the future hold for Frijns in Formula E after pair of Portland podiums?

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What does the future hold for Frijns in Formula E after pair of Portland podiums?

Robin’s return to the podium over the Portland weekend was the perfect timing, writes Championship Journalist Katy Fairman.

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As a driver in motorsport, you always want to be performing at your best and rewarded with big points and even bigger trophies. However, whether that be through your own doing or the teams, sometimes things don’t come together as you would like. I would argue that has been the case this season for Envision Racing’s Robin Frijns. 

Frijns, who recently passed his 100th race in the all-electric championship, is one of the most talented guys on the Formula E grid. He’s picked up 16 podiums during his time here, with two of those being victories, as well as two Julius Baer Pole Positions. 

FEATURE: Frijns To Join Formula E's 100 Race Club In Portland

He made the move back to Envision for Season 10, a team he raced with for four seasons before joining ABT CUPRA for a single year at the start of the GEN3 era. Although ABT CUPRA has made big leaps of progress, Frijns finished last season 22nd in the Drivers’ standings with just six points to his name – his worst year in the championship by a mile. This was also influenced by Frijns breaking his wrist in an incident at the first race in Mexico, which put him out of the car for four rounds. 

However, despite his injury and the pace of the car, his talent was still able to shine through at moments. He started from pole position for Round 8 in Berlin, ABT CUPRA’s home race, after a wet weather masterclass from him and former teammate Nico Mueller around the Tempelhof circuit to lock out the front row. Aside from that, and the three points that came from pole, he also finished in the top 10 in Jakarta and Portland. 

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In the London finale last year, Frijns was confirmed to be leaving the ABT CUPRA squad and just a week into summer break his return to Envision Racing was announced. It was one of the worst-kept secrets in the paddock but was a promising move for Robin as he re-joined the reigning Teams’ Champions following Nick Cassidy’s departure. 

Things started off strongly for the team this season thanks to Sebastien Buemi, Formula E Season 2 champion, securing a second-place finish in Mexico City for Envision. Unfortunately for Frijns, a handling problem resulted in another crash at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez circuit, but he bounced back in Diriyah. 

Robin was able to find himself back on the podium for the first time since New York in 2022, when he fought with Jaguar TCS Racing’s Nick Cassidy until the chequered flag in Saudi Arabia. Just over a second separated the two, but Frijns was confident bigger and better results would follow as he got himself familiar with the Jaguar powertrain in the Envision, which he labelled as being like a “new car for me to learn” at the time. 

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“I was struggling at the beginning of the season, in Mexico and Friday in Diriyah as well,” he added. “I was maybe a bit lost.”

Yet, despite the best intentions, things didn’t get better for both Frijns or Buemi. Four championship points were picked up over São Paulo and Tokyo, before a consecutive run of four rounds without a single point to their name. It wasn’t looking good for the reigning Teams’ Champions, until super substitute Joel Eriksson was able to make the step up in Berlin and finish in ninth to end their pointless drought. 

NEWS: Envision End Points-Scoring Drought Thanks To Eriksson In Berlin

From there, Buemi was able to finish eighth in the first of the Shanghai double-header races, with Frijns ninth on the Sunday. However, things took a positive turn in Portland when Robin managed not one but two back-to-back second places! Frijns was back where he belonged. 

“It was a good way to bounce back,” Frijns said after his consecutive P2 results Stateside. “We had a tough one and I have to say the team did a mega job. We prepared well for this race and delivered. It has been a struggle, so I wanted to bounce back and I knew I could do it and I knew the team could do it, so here I am.”

Cassidy won at the Portland International Raceway for Envision in 2023, but Frijns said that he didn’t think last year’s performance was a huge contributing factor in his and the team’s impressive pair of podiums.

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“Every weekend I think we are competitive, as we have a car that is competitive. We are always quick in Free Practices, but we don't always show it in qualifying with some small mistakes from me or strategy calls or whatever, and it's the same for the race. 

“We didn't really understand the race at the start of the season, or at least I did and the team was in the middle of it sometimes, but we sat down before Shanghai and improved a lot. Even though in Shanghai, I felt like we had a good race, we didn’t score the good points, and now we at least showed that we improved.”

With two rounds remaining in London until Season 10 comes to an end, these recent podiums have come at a great time for Frijns. Not only did he manage a piece of silverware on his 100th race start, a nice addition for the anniversary, but driver markets are a big topic of conversation at the moment. 

Good way to bounce back - Frijns on Portland podium pair

Last year, Robin’s move to Envision was one of the biggest stories of ‘silly season’, as it’s affectionately known. However, with lots of driver movement expected up and down the grid, Frijns’ seat was not – and as it stands is still not – safe. With rumours that Season 8 World Champion Stoffel Vandoorne could make the move from DS PENSKE to Envision, Frijns’ future remained unclear going into Portland. 

As well as speculations around a contract renewal at Envision, or even finding a seat elsewhere, there was even talk that Frijns could leave the all-electric championship altogether. Thankfully, the 32-year-old sounded optimistic about his future in Formula E and being back on the grid in Season 11; whoever that might be with. 

“I’m looking forward to coming back strong next year,” he stated ahead of the US race weekend. “I am not sure what is really happening around, but my plan doesn't really change for next year.”

With recency bias definitely having an influence in driver market decisions, these two back-to-back podiums could not have come at a better time for Frijns and will certainly serve as a reminder to teams that he should never be underestimated.