Jake Dennus has won the 2022/23 FIA Formula E World Championship, becoming the series’ eighth different Champion and only the third World Champion.
Here is how he did it!
With Nick Cassidy in pole position and Jake Dennis in second, it was always going to be an electric start to the race as the title was on the line. However, it was the second row that everyone needed to look at as Sebastian Buemi pushed Dennis to the limits of the track and managed to squeeze himself into second place to give Envision Racing a 1-2. Dennis came on team radio to say that he was hit during the opening corners of the circuit.
Mitch Evans, who was also in title contention, divided down the inside of Ticktum and into fifth, making the much-needed progress if he wanted to take the title fight into Sunday.
The first real incident of the race was between Edoardo Mortara and Stoffel Vandoorne under investigation for causing a collision. Mortara dropped to last place, with Vandoorne down to ninth. The incident occurred as Vandoorne out-braked himself trying to overtake the Nissan and made contact with the Masteri on the apex of the corner.
With the drivers having to go off-line and take attack mode, it provided a good opportunity for places to be gained but for Nick Cassidy, he was able to keep his position as he took attack mode, which crucially kept him at the front of the race.
Mitch Evans, who actually took Pole Position before a five-place grid penalty was applied, dived down the inside of Dennis and made it a Jaguar powertrains 1-2-3.
Dennis then attempted to take attack mode but didn’t activate it correctly and would be forced to try again later in the race. Shortly afterwards he was able to make a move down the inside of Cassidy, but in this battle, Rene Rast was able to get passed the pair.
Then came what would prove to be only of the most costly moments in the Championship battle as Dennis managed to get ahead of Cassidy as Envision had not ruled team orders for Buemi to let Cassidy pass.
Buemi then was trying to back Dennis into Cassidy and the British driver was almost put into the wall. This battle was getting feisty and with tensions so high, just about anything could of happened.
As Evans then attempted to back up the pack, Dennis called for Wehrlein’s help on team radio, this was because his car was powered by Porsche and he would return the favour in Sunday’s race if required. However, he didn’t need the help of Wehrlein as Buemi and Cassidy collided, damaging the front wing of Cassidy’s car that ultimately sent underneath and this left him out of title contention. The safety car was then called out as bits of a Formula E car were spread all over the middle of the track, some of which were hit by the oncoming cars.
On the restart, Evans bolted away and now Dennis was asking to get past Wehrlein after calling for his help not long beforehand. Jake Dennis then tried to take attack mode again but failed once more, before successfully activating it on the next lap. As Nick Cassidy pulled into the pits to retire, the maths was being done to see what Dennis needed to win the title. It soon became clear that if Evans won the race, Dennis would require a top-three finish.
Dennis was then able to move up to fourth as Wehrlein took attack mode, but he failed to activate it and would be forced to try again but not long afterwards the red flag came out with Sacha Fenerstaz in the wall down at the attack mode area. He collided and went over the top of Ticktum and straight into the barrier with what appeared to be a brake failure. A red flag came out after more time was needed for repairs to be made to the barriers. At the same time, Rene Rast pulled over with a broken front wing but made it back to pit lane.
With Rast breaking Parc Ferme rules and dropping to the back of the grid, only one place higher than Wehrlein who also went to the back, it promoted Dennis up to fourth and only a place away from becoming World Champion. However, Evans and Buemi ahead still needed to take attack mode and this would give Dennis and opportunity to get passed at least one if not both of the drivers ahead.
Evans managed to stay in the lead after taking his attack mode with one of the best takes of the season, with Dennis getting past Buemi and moving into third place, crucially into World Championship winning position with two laps to go, plus the one added lap at the end.
Buemi was driving very slowly and appeared to be backing the pack up behind. At the same time, Da Costa was placed under investigation for a technical infringement. The end of the race was going to prove to be as chaotic as the race but it was then suddenly halted when the red flags came out for a car park that was created outside of the ExCel. The top three were clear but everyone from Buemi back was parked up, apart from Hughes who was in the fall after being sent airborne by Roberto Mehri.
With Evans, Da Costa and Dennis all at the back of the pack struggling to get through the traffic jam the rest of the field would need to un-lap themselves if they were too start the race back on equal terms. Vandoorne and Mehri were sent to the back of the grid as a result of breaking parc ferme conditions.
At the restart, Buemi would have 4% extra energy than those ahead, but with it now being a sprint to the end this wouldn’t really be a factor. Then came the result of Da Costa’s technical infringement and he was handed a three-minute penalty which promoted Dennis to second and making his life much more comfortable and his way to winning the title.
It would be a first World Championship for Jake Dennis and the first British Champion in FIA Formula E. While today may have been all about the Drivers’ Championship, the Teams’ Championship is still up for grabs with Jaguar and Envision going to battle to see which of the Jaguar powered teams would come out on top. Porsche and Andretti are still in the running but a little way back, but this is Formula E and just about anything can happen.
On Sunday, we learned that Sergio Sette Camara was disqualified from the race and therefore Jake Hughes would inherit the final points place and with that also claim an extra point for the fastest lap inside the top ten. With the disqualification it elevated Mortara to fifth, Di Grassi to sixth, Ticktum to seventh, Nato to eighth and Wehrlein to ninth.
But how did we get to this point?, let’s take a look back at Friday’s practice session and the second practice session and qualifying that took place earlier on Saturday.
The Nissan team would have had the most smiles in any of the garages after Free Practice One on Friday evening, with Norman Nato leading the way. His team-mate Sasha Fenestraz ended the session in third place, with Nato also putting in the fastest second sector. In fact, Nato actually completed his best complete lap on his run to top spot, going second fastest overall through the first and final sector. Fenedtraz also set his best complete lap if you were to combine his fastest sector times on his way to third. What is quite intriguing here is that none of the sector times wasn’t anything spectacular, ninth in sector one, sixth in sector two, and third in sector three.
But if you were looking purely at lap times, there would have been some worrying going on down at Avalanche Andretti. Jake Dennis managed to only go 11th fastest overall. Even his individual sector times weren’t any better, only breaking into the top ten in sector three where he was sixth fastest.
Dennis’ main title rival Nick Cassidy had a better session than the British driver, rising to the top of the timesheets on two occasions, both in the second half of the session. He wouldn’t ultimately finish eight overall. However, if there was any hope of Dennis feeling a little more optimistic and that is the pace in the final sector, with Cassidy only 14th fastest through there.
Moving onto qualifying and with the train slowly coming down on Saturday morning and the coronation of a new Formula E Champion potentially taking place today, there was an electric atmosphere around the ExCel.
While the track for FP2 was declared wet, quite a bit of the circuit was bone dry due to this being an indoor/outdoor circuit. Robin Frijns was the first to explore an alternative layout, getting the Custom House chicane all wrong before he was able to rejoin the circuit. Less than 0.1 seconds separated the top three at this point, with Mitch Evans leading from Rene Rast and Norman Nato. Edoardo Mortara then quickly moved into second, followed by Guenther in third to make five cars separated by that time.
Dan Ticktum then thought he was at the airport a short distance away rather than at a Formula E race as he clattered the kerb at the chance and sent his all-electric machine flying through the air. Luckily, he didn’t suffer any damage and was able to continue with his run plan as normal.
With the pressure all on Jake Dennis to take the title on home soil, his 19th place on the leaderboard at one point during FP2 was worrying for the British supporters. However, the driver from Nuneaton proved that this was nothing more than just practice as he then went fastest overall shortly before Sebastian Buemi rose to the top of the leaderboard.
With less than a minute of the session, Robin Frijns went straight on down at the attack mode zone, bringing out the red flag and ending the session a few seconds early, much to the disappointment of some drivers who were on their final flying laps, with the track at its optimum and cancelling the practice starts.
At the end of FP2, it was advantage Cassidy after he topped the timesheets, with Dennis sitting fifth. The other title contenders Evans and Wehrlein finished sixth and fourth respectively.
Just after the end of the session, Jake Dennis’ team radio was aired highlighting his frustration with how his car was handling and operating on this very unique circuit.
Jake Dennis, Mitch Evans, Jean-Eric Vergne, Antonio Felix Da Costa, Sam Bird, Stoffel Vandoorne, Rene Rast, Edoardo Mortara, Andre Lotterer, Sergio Sette Camara and Robin Frijns were the drivers out in Group A as qualifying began. The top four from the session would progress into the duels were they would be joined by the fastest four from Group B.
Mitch Evans was fastest after everyone set their first flying lap, with Dennis second, Bird third and Vandoorne in fourth. If the session ended at that point those would have been the four drivers that would have progressed to the duels.
However, Rene Rast had other ideas as he rose to second on the standings Jake Dennis improved to first and Vandoorne went third. Sam Bird missed out on the duels by 0.094 seconds. Dennis however reported on the radio afterwards that he hit the wall on his final lap, but no notable damage was on the car. Roger Griffiths, Team Principal described it as a brush and was not concerned at all.
Andre Lotterer was also under investigation after he crossed the finish line twice after the checkered flag.
Nick Cassidy, Pascal Wehrlein, Maxi Guenther, Sebastian Buemi, Norman Nato, Jake Hughes, Sacha Fenestraz, Lucas di Grassi, Dan Ticktum, Nico Mueller and Roberto Mehri were the drivers in Group B.
Nato was pushing the limits of his Nissan, running straight on down at the Custom House chicance, with Jake Hughes also running very close to the wall on the start/finish straight, millimetres away if not clipping the wall as he concluded his lap.
Buemi, Nato, Mueller and Fenestraz were the drivers going through to the duels with a few minutes remaining, but all eyes were on Nick Cassidy as he tried to improve on his ninth place in the session.
On his flying lap, Cassidy out-braked himself on the approach to the attack mode zone and had a lock-up and had to abandon the lap. The pressure was on the Envision driver if he didn’t want the start the race from near the back of the grid, especially with Dennis in the duels.
Cassidy was starting to set purple sectors on what would be his final lap in the session, 0.372 seconds faster than anyone else, with his team-mate Buemi then going second, 0.162 seconds behind.
Dan Tickum also progressed the duels in his home race, with Pascal Wehrlein making it four out of four for the title contenders progressing into the duels.
This would be narrowed down to three at most after the quarter-finals with Wehrlein and Cassidy being paired together for duel number four. Vandoorne vs Evans, Rast vs Dennis and Ticktum vs Bumei would be the other battles taking place, with the winners progressing to the semi-finals and the losers making up places fifth to eighth on the grid based on their lap times in this session.
Evans would progress from the first duel, beating Vandoorne by 0.608 seconds and would await the winner of Rast vs Dennis. It would be a title battle showdown for a place in the final as Dennis went 0.3 seconds faster than the McLaren driver, who would start ahead of Vandoorne because of his faster lap time.
In the third semi-final, Buemi would set up one-half of a potential Envision head-to-head after beating Ticktum by 0.2 seconds, with the winner of Wehrlein vs Cassidy facing the Swiss driver. Cassidy would make it an all-Evision semi-final, not for the first time this season, as he beat Wehrlein by nearly half a second but would need a much faster and cleaner lap if we wanted to make it into the final. Ticktum was the faster out of the eliminated drivers, with Wehrlein laps narrowly faster than the reigning World Champion, Stoffel Vandoorne.
The semi-finals would see pressure in one and relaxation in the other, as team orders in the Envision duel would see Cassidy stroll through to the final at the expense of Buemi, who was generous enough to help the team and Cassidy as he goes for the title.
Dennis vs Evans was the duel everyone had their eye on but while Dennis was the favourite to progress for many, Evans wasn’t messing around as he went nearly 0.4 seconds faster than the British driver to claim his place in the final, awaiting the winner of Cassidy vs Buemi, which was of course the Kiwi after Buemi went off the circuit down at turn ten and finished over six seconds slower than his team-mate.
Dennis needed to be six points ahead of Cassidy at the end of Saturday’s race if he was to be crowned World Champion with a race to spare. The final duel had three points on the line as well, and Dennis was hoping that Evans would take off Cassidy in the final. What was somewhat forgotten going into the final duel was the five-place grid penalty that Evanas was carrying over from Rome for causing that collision which took him and Cassidy out of the race. This meant that even if he lost this duel, Cassidy would be starting on pole, with Dennis alongside him on the front row. To add another caveat to the final duel, Envision use Jaguar powertrains and given that Cassidy was the manufacturer’s best hope of winning the Driver’s title, despite Evans still being just about in the mix, questions were asked whether team orders would be in play here too.
Team orders were most definitely not in play, or the drivers didn’t follow them if they were as only Evans took pole position by 0.026 seconds. Cassidy’s mistakes in the final sector cost him the extra points and kept the difference between him and Dennis to 24 points ahead of the race.
Cassidy on the team radio afterwards said that it was like Christmas and New Year’s in July for Dennis, potentially frustrated with the lack of team orders in that final duel. Although you can’t blame Jaguar or Evans given that the Jaguar TCS Racing driver was still in the mix for the title.