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Formula E London ePrix II

The road to becoming Britain's first Formula E champion

For Jake Dennis, who has proved himself at every stage of his motorsport career, lifting the Formula E crown is a dream fulfilled. Starting his campaign in almost perfect fashion before some mid-season struggles, the Briton dug deep to claim a long-awaited world title

World champion Jake Dennis, Andretti Autosport celebrates

“To become world champion is something we all dream of.” For Jake Dennis, that dream became a reality in the London E-Prix as he sealed the 2022-2023 Formula E title in front of his home crowd. It certainly wasn’t easy, with wheel-to-wheel battles and two red flags putting Dennis’s crowning in doubt until the very final moments.

In fact, it has been far from easy all season for the Briton, even if his campaign did start in almost perfect fashion with a win at the opening round in Mexico City and runner-up finishes in the Diriyah E-Prix double-header.

PLUS: How Dennis navigated Formula E finale chaos to be crowned champion at home

Incredibly, between Diriyah and the second race in Berlin – a period of nearly three months – he failed to score a single point across four races. But Dennis dug deep and what followed was the start of a purple patch for the Andretti Autosport driver, who went on to record five consecutive podiums.

A return to the top step finally came in the second Rome E-Prix, where he claimed an impressive lights-to-flag victory, while behind him title rivals Mitch Evans and Nick Cassidy collected each other. Their collision essentially handed Dennis a decisive advantage.

The title is the crowning glory so far of a career in which Dennis has gone up against the best the sport has to offer, beating them on numerous occasions, but never quite being in a position to make the jump into Formula 1. He’s sampled modern F1 machinery, making two official test outings with Red Bull in Spain and Hungary in 2018, and he remains the squad’s development driver – his feedback clearly highly regarded and playing its own part in the team’s current dominance.

 

Dennis seemed destined for success as a youngster, having been picked up by the Racing Steps Foundation programme at the age of 12 as he continued to build an impressive karting CV.

He cut his teeth in cars via the new-for-2011 InterSteps Championship, a low-budget series backed by RSF itself and using Formula BMW’s Mygale chassis, where he claimed the title with eight victories. More wins and another title followed the next year in the Formula Renault 2.0 Northern European Cup, earning him a slot as a finalist for the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award – which he duly won.

Dennis finished the 2015 Formula 3 European Championship in front of an impressive roll call of drivers including Charles Leclerc

Dennis finished the 2015 Formula 3 European Championship in front of an impressive roll call of drivers including Charles Leclerc

Photo by: FIA F3 / Suer

A jump full-time into the Formula Renault Eurocup followed and, although there were no wins, fourth in the 2013 standings was a decent showing behind champion Pierre Gasly, Oliver Rowland and Esteban Ocon. In the 2014 Formula 3 European Championship – the same season in which Max Verstappen also made his debut in F3 machinery – he finished ninth with Carlin before a move to Prema the next season yielded third in the standings with six wins. Although some distance behind champion Felix Rosenqvist and runner-up Antonio Giovinazzi, he finished in front of an impressive rollcall of drivers – Charles Leclerc, Lance Stroll, George Russell and Alex Albon.

He would cross paths with Leclerc and Albon again in 2016 as they finished first and second respectively in GP3 while Dennis claimed fourth with Arden. But by now a new pathway in GT racing beckoned for Dennis, his six-foot-plus frame proving a disadvantage against his rivals in single-seaters, and he competed for WRT and R-Motorsport in Blancpain GT and the DTM, even finishing second in the 2019 Bathurst 12 Hours aboard an Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

But a return to single-seaters was on the horizon after impressing BMW through a series of evaluations, and beating the likes of Marco Wittmann and Philipp Eng to the second Andretti Formula E seat for the 2020-21 season.

The title is the crowning glory so far of a career in which Dennis has gone up against the best the sport has to offer, beating them on numerous occasions, but never quite being in a position to make the jump into Formula 1

Two wins in his rookie season put him on the cusp of the title but a rear-axle issue in the Berlin finale sent him spinning out, while his sophomore campaign was slightly tougher with sixth in the standings and only one win.

Fast-forward to last weekend, and his achievement was a moment team owner Michael Andretti wanted to savour, his squad having been a part of Formula E since its inception in 2014.

“I’ve been very impressed with Jake since the moment we hired him,” said Andretti. “He almost won the championship two years ago when we had the BMW. If the motor didn’t fail in the last race, we would have won. So even in his rookie year he was in contention for a championship, so we knew we had a special guy.”

But what now for Dennis? To a certain extent life carries on, with the Briton already back doing simulator work on Tuesday and attention inevitably turning to the new Formula E campaign. What became clear towards the end of this season, though, is that the Jaguar powertrain is the class of the field, and that both Cassidy and Evans can match Dennis in terms of performance.

With the Kiwis expected to team up at Jaguar next season, it’s a mighty prospect for anyone to face. But Dennis has proved he’s capable of going up against the best and beating them during his career. The difference next year is he will be the driver everyone is aiming for, and with that comes a new set of pressures and expectations that he will once again have to conquer.

Dennis will face a new set of pressures and expectations next season as reigning champion

Dennis will face a new set of pressures and expectations next season as reigning champion

Photo by: Nick Dungan / Motorsport Images

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