BMW i Andretti Motorsport’s Jake Dennis was left “lost for words” as he capped off an incredible weekend at the Valencia E-Prix. The rookie driver achieved his first points on Saturday, before storming his way to a maiden pole position and victory a day later.
The Brit struggled early on this season and before the double-header, the 25-year-old sat at the bottom of the drivers’ standings on zero points.
In the first race on Saturday, wet conditions caused chaos and saw the safety car brought out five times. Under Formula E’s rules, 1kWh is deducted from the cars for every minute spent behind the safety car. Energy mismanagement meant several cars failed to have enough useable energy to complete the race and many stopped on the final lap.
Nuneaton-born Dennis crossed the line in 11th. However, post-race disqualifications for Britain’s Alex Lynn and Sam Bird and reigning champion Antonio Felix da Costa saw him promoted to ninth, his first points finish of the season.
Yet it was on Sunday where the BMW i Andretti driver truly shone. He was fastest overall in the Group Qualifying session before he took his first Julius Baer Pole Position, eight-tenths quicker than Porsche’s Andre Lotterer.
In an undesirable position, Dennis was forced to lead the whole 45 minute + 1 lap race, as teams used the slipstream effect to save energy until the final few laps. Even so, he managed his energy perfectly.
A slow penultimate lap saw him run the clock down to zero and turn the race into a one-lap sprint to the chequered flag, which he won ahead of Lotterer.
“It was a difficult race in terms of energy management, but we had the perfect strategy today and it worked out,” he said. “Today we had a perfect race and I’m very happy!
“I am lost for words. The whole race inside the cockpit was incredibly technical. Pulling a gap at the right point to get the ATTACK MODE was so crucial. Everyone in the team did a great job.
“We had such a tough start to the season, but today we turned it around. We are back in it again,” Dennis added.
Behind him, Alex Lynn’s race went full circle. The Mahindra driver started second and sat on the rear of Dennis’ car for the first half of the race, before ROKiT Venturi’s Norman Nato knocked him through the gravel and dropped him down to ninth.
He battled his way back up to fourth, with five-second penalty for Nato in front promoting the 27-year-old to his first Formula E podium.
“It was our plan to stay behind but you are at risk of someone making a mistake especially when you are in a train.
“We got a bit unlucky, but we recovered nicely so thanks to the team. This is my first podium finish, and it feels super sweet!” said the driver from Goodmayes, Greater London.
The remaining Brits did not all have the same fortune as Dennis and Lynn.
Nissan e.dams’ Oliver Rowland narrowly missed out on a podium, with the Barnsley driver crossing the line in fourth after starting eighth.
Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Turvey benefitted from the improved track conditions to qualify in third and fourth for NIO 333. Both fought hard to remain at the front, but Penrith-born Turvey was forced to settle for eighth, whilst his team-mate dropped down to 17th.
It was a disappointing weekend for the former championship leader, as Sam Bird struggled and could only manage 14th on Sunday for Jaguar Racing.
Lastly, Alexander Sims’ race was ruined before it even began. The 33-year-old from London was handed a drive-through penalty for a technical infringement and the Mahindra was the last of the finishers in 23rd.
In the drivers’ championship, Dennis has jumped up the standings and now sits in eighth. However, Bird is still the leading British driver in third, behind Mercedes EQ’s Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne.
The ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returns for Round 7 in Monaco on Saturday 8 May.
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