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Formula 1 Abu Dhabi GP

Red Bull F1's Abu Dhabi FP1 invitation a "welcome surprise" for Dennis

Reigning Formula E champion Jake Dennis says he believed a call from Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was to discuss simulator runs rather than a Formula 1 practice outing.

Jake Dennis, Andretti Global

Dennis will make his first official grand prix weekend appearance for Red Bull when he drives the team’s RB19 in FP1 at the Abu Dhabi season finale next month.

The 28-year-old, who won the Formula E title last season with Andretti Global, has been a Red Bull simulator driver since 2018 and completed two test session outings that year in Spain and Hungary at the wheel of the RB14.

The call-up for Abu Dhabi came as a surprise to the Briton, with each F1 team required to run a rookie in each of its cars during one FP1 session this season.

“To a certain extent it was [a surprise], obviously I definitely don’t see myself as a junior driver or anything like that,” Dennis exclusively told Autosport.

“My focus is purely on Formula E and try and deliver a good result there, so I didn’t really expect much of it [the call].

“I just thought it was going to be more simulator work or something along those lines. But yeah, it was a welcome surprise.”

Dennis says that he is still unaware of the reason behind the opportunity given his age, which he says “doesn’t really play in my favour”, but hopes that the chance will allow him to better correlate between the car’s characteristics on-track and the simulator.

“Honestly, I’m not really too sure, I never really asked the question to Christian and unaware of the reasons behind it,” he said.

Dennis last tested for Red Bull at the Hungaroring in 2018

Dennis last tested for Red Bull at the Hungaroring in 2018

Photo by: Jerry Andre

“I think obviously they definitely benefit from me being better at giving correlation when I will have driven the real car, so I think that’s obviously definitely a part of it.”

About the tight confines of the RB19, Dennis, who stands at more than six-foot, added: “It’s incredibly tight that’s for sure, I don’t really fit all that well, but I mean I’ve got to make it work, I will. It’s no armchair let’s put it that way.”

Dennis has been with Andretti Global since he entered Formula E in 2020, when the team was BMW's works entry, and claimed the drivers’ title last season in the London E-Prix season finale with customer Porsche powertrains.

He is currently out in Valencia with the team for pre-season testing, but has yet to drive after a car battery fire has currently halted proceedings.

With Andretti pushing for a place in F1 – its application having been approved by the FIA and now in the hands of FOM – there’s potential scope for Dennis to join the F1 grid with the American team if it is successful.

“Michael [Andretti] is obviously pushing for Formula 1, it wouldn’t be a crazy idea if he thought about putting me in the car but from my understanding it’s just let’s get the F1 entry first and then we decide whose even in consideration,” added Dennis.

“But right now, there hasn’t been any talks of it, it’s just purely him wanting to contract me for the next few years in Formula E and we seem all on the same page with that so it’s just right now focusing purely on Formula E.”

Dennis will be joined for FP1 in Abu Dhabi by F2 driver Isack Hadjar, with both Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez sitting out the session ahead of the season-finale on 26 November.

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