Second place for Jake Dennis in an eventful Hankook London E-Prix was enough to win the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship with a race to spare, becoming the first British driver to claim a world title at home.
Dennis survived two missed trips through the ATTACK MODE loop, heavy pressure from his closest rival and polesitter Nick Cassidy (Envision Racing) as well as two red flags to become Formula E’s first British world champion
The title is Andretti’s first in Formula E – the American team having been a part of the series from day one – and Dennis’ first FIA world championship title.
The Briton headed into the race 24 points clear of Nick Cassidy, who picked up three points before the race began by earning Julius Bär Pole Position.
The Kiwi led the early stages before ceding top spot to eventual winner and countryman Evans on Lap 11 and second spot to teammate Sébastien Buemi.
Dennis had earlier made it past Cassidy with an opportunistic move at the final corner just a couple of laps before, with Cassidy immediately fighting his way back around the Andretti. The dogfight for the world title was underway.
However, with Cassidy running in formation close behind Buemi, the Envision Racing drivers came into contact. Cassidy’s front wing was dislodged, catching beneath his left-front wheel. Despite pit stop repairs and a return to the track, Cassidy was unable to continue which effectively ended his hopes of pushing on from second place in the Drivers’ World Championship standings. Good news for Dennis and the Avalanche Andretti team.
Loose bodywork from that clash caused a brief spell under the safety car, bunching up the pack. Meanwhile Jake Dennis shared his exasperation over the radio at Pascal Wehrlein (TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team) with the German hanging onto fourth place at Dennis’ expense in the Porsche-powered Avalanche Andretti as the Teams’ title battle heated up.
But Wehrlein’s challenge then also fell by the wayside in a shunt just before a red flag for the recovery of Sacha Fenestraz’s Nissan. He and Jake Hughes tangled into Turn 1, with damage to the German’s Porsche terminal.
On the restart Evans led away, with Dennis working his way into third – enough to seal the title as it stood. An over-optimistic move from Norman Nato (Nissan Formula E Team) at the penultimate turn on Lap 34 caused a chain reaction behind with several cars unable to avoid the melee, forcing another spell under red flag conditions.
The restart came swiftly with a three-lap sprint to the flag and Dennis having to only hold on to his position to ensure his first world title.
In front of jubilant home support, Dennis took the chequered flag in third behind Evans but was promoted to second following a penalty for TAG Heuer Porsche’s António Félix da Costa. Sébastien Buemi (Envision Racing) rounded out the podium.
Dennis was crowned Drivers’ World Champion on 213 points, with Evans on 176 unable to catch him with one round of the 16-race season remaining, the second of the 2023 Hankook London E-Prix double-header.
The Teams’ World Championship will go down to the final race with Envision Racing just eight points ahead of their factory powertrain provider, Jaguar TCS Racing. TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team are in third with a mathematical change of top spot.
Jake Dennis, No 27, Avalanche Andretti Formula E team, said:
“I am lost for words, honestly. It means so much to me, the boys standing out there, we have had everything thrown at us, honestly it felt like everyone was racing against us – but Jesus Christ we have just become world champion! I am so happy for myself, the team, everyone – we deserve this so much.
“I only joined this championship three years ago, we almost won in our rookie year but now to come back and have the year that we have had, breaking all the podium records. To become world champion is mind blowing, I really didn’t think it could happen coming into this year, but full credit to my boys. I love them so much, they have given me an absolute rocket ship all year, this is the least I could do for them.
“I could hear the fans as well, it is absolutely incredible to share this moment with them. My mum is out there somewhere, it is incredible for her. World champion – I am just amazed.”
Mitch Evans, No. 9, Jaguar TCS Racing, said:
“I want to take a moment to congratulate Jake on the world championship. It is a hard one for me, I feel for Nick as well, I am not sure what happened with him. Obviously I came here to try and fight for the championship on the second day, we did all we could but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. My mind was thinking Rome hurts even more now. It is what it is, Jake deserved that, Nick as well. We did all we could in the end. It was a chaotic race, I was very aggressive when it counted, and it paid off. There were a few stoppages, but I was able to keep my composure and get the job done.
“For tomorrow everyone is going to make a jump so we have to make a step. Obviously today was the benchmark, but I think it is very tight, the Envisions are very quick, and so are the Andrettis, so obviously it is more a Teams’ Championship fight now.”
Sébastien Buemi, No. 16, Envision Racing, said:
“I think we played it very well at the beginning with Nick, obviously trying to make a gap for him to make the attack, but he didn’t take it well unfortunately. Then we had that contact, really unfortunate. I couldn’t take the attack so I had a six-minute attack for him to take, and clearly that was a big issue for us because we didn’t have enough race distance to make sure we would consume the six minutes. In the end the red flag helped us. Happy to salvage a few points, but obviously disappointed because I think today could have been a much better day.
“No, I was not [told to let Nick Cassidy through]. I was obviously ready to do so, but at that point I was not. I was ready to do so at any point, but there I was not told anything, so clearly we need to review and see what we can improve on tomorrow.”
Michael Andretti, CEO & Chairman, Andretti Autosport, said:
“It was insane, I think that basically explains what Formula E is all about, you just never know all the way until the last lap. Even those last two laps we were just holding our breath. I can’t thank the team enough, hanging in there all these years to finally get on top of a podium for a championship. I want to thank Porsche, their powertrain was fantastic, they have had an incredible year with it, and also our sponsor Avalanche. But mostly all the crew, they worked their butts off, and they really deserve this win.”
The final race in Season 9 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship is tomorrow (Sunday). The second race in the 2023 Hankook London E-Prix double-header is Round 16 and concludes a season which began in Mexico City followed by Diriyah, Hyderabad, Cape Town, São Paulo, Berlin, Monaco, Jakarta, Portland, Rome and London.