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Formula E London ePrix I

The threats that could deny Dennis a maiden Formula E title

The 2022-2023 Formula E championship comes to a close this weekend in London, with home hero Jake Dennis in prime position to clinch the title. But even with a healthy points lead and home advantage for the double-header, three other drivers still pose a threat to his crown

Jake Dennis, Avalanche Andretti Formula E, Porsche 99 X Electric Gen3

“It would mean the world. Everyone in motorsport strives to be world champion at what they do.”

For Jake Dennis, this weekend’s London E-Prix double-header could well be the culmination of a lifetime’s ambition as he sits on the verge of being crowned the 2022-2023 Formula E world champion.

The Briton has every chance of walking away with the title this weekend – at his home event of all places – as he heads to ExCeL London’s unique indoor/outdoor circuit with a 24-point margin over his nearest rival, Envision Racing’s Nick Cassidy. Jaguar’s Mitch Evans and Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein are also mathematically in contention.

As well as a healthy points lead, Dennis arrives in the UK’s capital in fine form. He won last time out in Rome with a lights-to-flag performance, leading every lap from pole on his way to a second victory of the season.

PLUS: How Dennis conquered Rome to lay siege to the Formula E title

When you also factor in that the Andretti Autosport driver has taken five podiums from the last six races, as well as securing at least one victory at the London track in each of the last two years, it would be easy to assume his name is already being etched into the championship trophy. But Dennis knows that with such expectation comes extra pressure and the 28-year-old Red Bull Formula 1 simulator driver is intent on not changing his mindset for the two races.

“It's never easy [to manage pressure], I think it’s one of the harder things in any sport really to keep your head and keep level in difficult situations,” Dennis tells Autosport. “There’s only so much you can do. You don’t want to try and take too little risk because then you just keep going backwards in the race and before you know it, you’re out of the points and you may as well DNF. You just need to make calculated and educated risk versus reward [moves].

“If I’m fighting Nick then we can be a little bit more aggressive because neither of us can afford DNFs that’s for sure. And then on Sunday if we still have that healthy points lead then you can be even more calculated and even more risk diverse.”

Dennis has a healthy points lead but the pressure will be on to convert it into the Formula E title this weekend

Dennis has a healthy points lead but the pressure will be on to convert it into the Formula E title this weekend

Photo by: Sam Bagnall / Motorsport Images

Such is his margin that even if Cassidy were incredibly able to take the maximum 58-point haul from the weekend – which includes 25 points for the win, three for pole and one point for the fastest lap on each day – second in both races would be enough for Dennis to secure the crown.

But while Dennis might hold all the cards heading into the season-finale that will consist of 36 and 34-lap contests respectively, one ace that he could well be lacking is pure outright pace compared with his rivals. Jaguar and customer team Envision have generally been the strongest packages when it comes to the main events due to their energy efficiency, with Cassidy and Evans winning three races apiece across the last nine outings.

“I do feel like they’re still going to have a slight advantage on us in terms of pure performance,” admits Dennis. “I think they’ll be extremely competitive, but there’s no reason why we can’t bring something to the table which will be able to fight them. We don’t need to win every race to win this championship now, we just need to try and be close.

Although all the signs point to title success for Dennis – in just his third season of Formula E – don’t be surprised if there is one more twist and turn in this year’s battle

“I do feel like we’ve got the measure of Mitch. He’s got a five-place grid penalty so I think it will be difficult for him to win it. I think Nick is going to be an extremely tough opponent to beat, but hopefully we can just try and deliver the same performance we have in Rome in race two.”

The five-place qualifying grid penalty mentioned for Evans comes after the Jaguar driver dramatically collided with his fellow New Zealander Cassidy early on in the second Rome E-Prix when both were set to challenge Dennis for the win. Evans retired, while Cassidy was able to finish albeit out of the points as both were put on the backfoot with regards to the championship battle. Evans sits 44 points behind Dennis in the title hunt and will need a remarkable turnaround to walk away with the drivers’ title.

Speaking after the collision in Rome, Cassidy said he was still “within one race [on points] and there are two races left” and that “if I’m second behind Dennis, I’ve got a better chance than 20 other guys”.

Realistically, Cassidy is the only driver with a fair shot at stopping Dennis grab the title as he starts the finale 24 points off

Realistically, Cassidy is the only driver with a fair shot at stopping Dennis grab the title as he starts the finale 24 points off

Photo by: Sam Bagnall / Motorsport Images

One interesting dynamic this weekend, though, could be if Evans is in a position to help Cassidy for the title. The two are childhood friends having grown up together in New Zealand and were even team-mates – something which is likely to repeat itself next year as Cassidy looks set to join the factory team. Cassidy was hurt by their collision in Rome, having been the innocent party, and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Evans may look to rectify his mistake to some extent, although the teams’ title battle could likely thwart this scenario.

Envision currently lead that table, but is only 14 points ahead of Porsche and a further 11 points in front of Jaguar in the standings with Andretti just 35 points from the top. For Wehrlein, the teams’ title will be his most realistic target this weekend as a 49-point deficit to Dennis means it would take a minor miracle for him to be crowned champion. The championship dynamic this weekend means Sebastien Buemi (Envision), Antonio Felix da Costa (Porsche), Sam Brid (Jaguar) and Andre Lotterer (Andretti) will all have meaningful roles to play in the double-header, both for their teams and team-mates.

Nothing has been decided yet and although all the signs point to title success for Dennis – in just his third season of Formula E – don’t be surprised if there is one more twist and turn in this year’s battle given the frenetic nature of the all-electric championship.

Can Dennis clinch the Formula E title at his home event?

Can Dennis clinch the Formula E title at his home event?

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

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