Britain’s Jake Dennis is on the brink of claiming his first FIA World Championship title as the Avalanche Andretti Formula E team driver goes into the final two races of the Formula E season in front of home fans on a track where he has won twice before - including achieving a Grand Slam of Julius Baer Pole Position, TAG Heuer Fastest Lap, the race win while leading start to finish in London last season.
A repeat of his supreme victory on the streets of Rome the last time out - another Grand Slam, making him the only driver with more than one - would be enough to seal a first FIA World Championship title for Dennis in the opening race of the 2023 Hankook London E-Prix double-header on Saturday.
But as this season has proved time and again, anything can happen – and usually does – in Formula E. There have been seven different winners representing six different teams, with only TAG Heuer Porsche able count both their drivers as winners in 2022/23. Some 11 drivers have made it to the podium and 19 drivers have led a lap - beating Formula E's Season 7 record. Nothing is assured come the finale weekend.
Season so far...
Races 15 and 16 in Season 9 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship will settle what has been arguably the most competitive and entertaining in Formula E history. The introduction of the third generation GEN3 race car this year – the fastest, lightest, most powerful and efficient electric race car ever built – has seen Formula E records smashed including the fastest ever lap - on three occasions - as well as the most overtakes, lead changes and different leaders in a race.
Dennis is one of four drivers who quickly got to grips with their revolutionary EV technology and battled for supremacy all season long as the championship returned to established circuits in Berlin, Mexico City, Diriyah, Rome, Monaco and London while debuting in no less than four cities – Hyderabad, Cape Town, São Paulo and Portland.
He has 50% more Duels appearances than any other driver in qualifying and last time out in Rome, he became the only driver to have won lights to flag in the GEN3 era. Couple those records with the joint-largest standings lead this season, tied with TAG Heuer Porsche driver Pascal Wehrlein's post-Brazil advantage at 24 points, and a podium tally of nine, two more than next best Nick Cassidy, and Dennis is sitting pretty.
Wehrlein set the early pace after finishing second to Dennis in the GEN3 debut in Mexico City followed by a cool win-double in Diriyah. Wehrlein wouldn’t return to the podium until winning Round 10 in Jakarta but consistent points in the intervening races kept him in in touch at the top.
It was Envision Racing’s Cassidy who took control in mid-season claiming five podiums in six races from Rounds 4 to 9 including back-to-back wins in Berlin and Monaco to emerge as a strong championship contender.
Meanwhile, Mitch Evans of Jaguar TCS Racing entered the title picture in Round 6 in Brazil after a frustrating start to the GEN3 era for the Kiwi kept him off the podium. But Evans followed success in São Paulo with a win in the Berlin opening race to force his way into the title conversation.
From mid-season it was Cassidy, Dennis and Wehrlein edging the lead in the championship, often separated by just a single point, with Evans staying in close contention.
That all changed in the final stop on Formula E’s 10-city world tour before the London finale. On the sweltering streets of Rome and what is regarded as the most challenging circuit in the series, one of the biggest shunts n Formula E history in Saturday’s race was the main talking point. But Evans secured an impressive win from amongst the carnage, while second for Cassidy put him a point beyond Dennis who could only finish fourth.
Fast forward twenty-four hours to the end of the second Rome race and even the script writers for professional wrestling – inspired by a bruising track visit from AEW wrestler Claudio Castagnoli - might not have come up with the storyline.
With Cassidy and Evans in close formation hunting down Dennis for the race lead, sharp braking caused Evans to lose control of the back of his car, clipping Dennis ahead of him, before going fully airborne and hitting the top of Cassidy’s car. Evans had to retire while Cassidy limped to P14, both losing critical points.
The dramatic incidents in Rome highlighted the uniquely intense, high-risk nature of wall-to-wall street racing in Formula E with no margin of error.
The impact on the Drivers’ World Championship was equally significant: Dennis somehow managed to avoid damage and delivered the most supreme performance of the season claiming a Formula E grand slam – Julius Bär Pole Position, TAG Heuer Fastest Lap, while leading the entire race from lights to chequered flag.
The result propelled Dennis to the top of the leaderboard with a 24-point advantage over Cassidy in second. Evans is 44 points back in third while Wehrlein still has a mathematical chance of the top spot at 49 points behind Dennis.
With 25 points for the race win, and 18 points for second (plus three points for Julius Baer Pole Position and one for TAG Heuer Fastest Lap), only a Dennis victory on Saturday will be enough to claim the title outright with a race to spare. One thing is for sure: Cassidy, Evans, Wehrlein and the other 18 drivers will be out rewrite that storyline.
The Teams’ World Championship is also wide open and likely to go to the final race. Envision Racing lead the way in the Teams' table by 14 points over TAG Heuer Porsche while Jaguar TCS Racing lie in third with 228 points.
Formula E returns to East London's historic docklands and the ExCeL events arena in the London Borough of Newham.
The 2.09km, 20-turn track starts off indoors on a silky-smooth surface offering bags of grip, and after a quick succession of the corners the pack heads outside.
Immediately on exit they will touch a strip of slippy metal, before heading down into the outdoor portion with the highly abrasive asphalt surrounding the exhibition centre.
The outside features a flowing set of chicanes prime for passing opportunities. From there it's a quick run down to a twisty set of curves before heading back up and inside the main hall to finish a lap.
With changes in surface, elevation and dealing with the shift in lighting, the field face a unique challenge with this indoor and outdoor circuit.
We've had three home winners in London: Sam Bird (Jaguar TCS Racing) in Battersea Park, Season 1, Alex Lynn (Mahindra Racing) and two for Jake Dennis with Andretti at the ExCeL Circuit. Only Nico Prost (Renault e.dams) and Dennis have managed more than one win in the British capital.
Meet the drivers!
This Wednesday there will be a Formula E takeover on Carnaby Street, with the GEN3 race car on display all day ahead of the launch of the official Formula E podium caps at the New Era store. Championship leader Jake Dennis and home favourite Dan Ticktum will be there to meet fans as well as Josh Denzel.
Head down to the store to receive a free Formula E patch with a purchase of new cap and meet the drivers.
Free Practice 1 for the Hankook London E-Prix Round 15 gets underway at 17:00 BST on Friday 28 July.
Free Practice 2 starts at 10:30 BST on Saturday followed by qualifying from 12:40 BST. Round 15 gets underway from 17:00 BST.
Free Practice 3 starts at 10:30 BST on Sunday followed by qualifying from 12:40 BST. Round 16 gets underway from 17:00 BST.
Follow the action on-track as it happens in the brand new Race Centre. Keep across Live Timing – which includes a real-time interactive track map and the ability to follow your favourite driver during every session of every E-Prix.
There's also exclusive extended highlights, detailed session reports, interviews, all the standings and results as well as data, insight and reaction from trackside.