Formula E

Jake Dennis Claims Dominant Victory In Mexico City Opener

6 Mins read
Credit: Carl Bingham courtesy of FIA Formula E

Jake Dennis started Season Nine of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in supreme fashion at the Mexico City E-Prix, after claiming one of the most dominant victories in the history of the championship. The British driver claimed the win by eight-seconds, as Pascal Wehrlein stormed through the top five to seal second on the podium. Pole-sitter Lucas Di Grassi had to settle for third, after spending the vast majority of the incident-packed race defending for his life.

Perfect Start For Lucas Di Grassi, Misery For Sam Bird

With Di Grassi starting on pole with Dennis alongside him, all twenty-two drivers stared at the lights, as they waited for the first race of Season Nine and Gen3 to get underway. As the lights went out at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, it was the pole-sitter who made the best launch off the line, as all the drivers fought relentlessly on the opening lap of the season. By the time the first lap had been completed a Safety Car was needed, after Robin Frijns came to a halt after going into the back of Norman Nato. Frijns weirdly went into the back of Nato all on his own on the opening lap, resulting in both the Dutchman and the Frenchman having to retire.

Apart from the collision at the back, the remaining drivers all kept it relatively clean on the first lap, with little change having occurred to the starting order. The Safety Car finally came back into the pits at the end of Lap Five, as Di Grassi led Dennis, Jake Hughes and the rest of the field across the start/finish line to restart the race. As soon as the race restarted, though, it was immediately neutralised with another Safety Car, after Sam Bird‘s disastrous weekend ended in woeful style. Bird pulled to the inside of Turn Two and instantly complained of a driveshaft failure, cementing his season opener as one to instantly forget. Onboards showed, though, that a system fault was clearly present as well.

The race once again restarted on Lap Ten, with Dennis and Hughes having kept much closer to Di Grassi at the second restart. The back of the field were weirdly well-off the pack as the race restarted, something that caused two distinct groups.

Credit: Sam Bloxham courtesy of FIA Formula E

Jake Dennis Hits The Front

Nick Cassidy and Stoffel Vandoorne became the first two drivers to activate their Attack Mode, whilst at the front Dennis lunged on a sleeping Di Grassi at Turn Three, claiming the lead in the process thanks to the Brazilian making an earlier error at Turn Two. Agony was suddenly felt by NIO 333 Racing and Dan Ticktum, as the Brit served a drive-through penalty on Lap Thirteen for using too much power, dropping him from the top-eight, to last.

As the race reached Lap Fourteen, several drivers opted to take their first Attack Mode, including, Dennis, who activated it and retained the lead due to having built a strong gap in rapid fashion. The Avalanche Andretti Formula E driver was absolutely flying out in-front, whilst Di Grassi began to hold up Hughes and André Lotterer behind. Hughes, Lotterer and Wehrlein all activated their Attack Mode, whilst Di Grassi continued in second but without having activated his, putting him at risk of losing several places.

Remarkably, he managed to keep second place when he activated his Attack Mode on Lap Sixteen, whilst out in-front Dennis was out of sight, after building a gap of over three-seconds. With the top six having taken their first Attack Mode, the race somewhat calmed down momentarily, before all of Dennis’ hardwork was ruined. A third Safety Car was deployed on Lap Nineteen of the Thirty-Six Lap race, after Edoardo Mortara‘s unfortunate weekend ended in miserable style, after spinning into the barrier at Turn One all through his own fault.

Pascal Wehrlein Starts His Charge

This, of course, bunched the remaining drivers back up, with Dennis having then been responsible for restarting the race on Lap Twenty. The British driver restarted the race in exceptional fashion and built a quick gap to Di Grassi, with Dennis’ pace advantage evident. Dennis built a gap of over a second on the first lap of racing since the third Safety Car, with no one seemingly having an answer for his sensational pace.

Behind Dennis, Di Grassi, Hughes, Wehrlein and Lotterer formed their own little group, with Sacha Fenestraz having fallen off the back of Dennis’ team-mate. Behind those at the front, DS Penske were enduring a hugely unexpected race, with Jean-Éric Vergne and Vandoorne having been in tenth and eleventh as the race moved towards Lap Twenty-Six. Maximilian Günther was another driver who appeared to be struggling, with the Maserati MSG Racing driver having found himself well outside the points.

Back at the front, and Dennis was once again escaping into the distance; however, behind him it was all kicking-off. After activating his second Attack Mode on Lap Twenty-Six, Wehrlein managed to overtake Hughes whilst the Brit and Di Grassi activated their final Attack Mode, moving the 2022 race winner up to third. Wehrlein was seemingly a man on a mission, as the German overtook Di Grassi for second on Lap Twenty-Nine, forming a Porsche powertrain one-two with Dennis.

Di Grassi was clearly trying to save energy, with the Mahindra Racing driver having used more energy than any of the frontrunners, which resulted in the incredibly experienced driver having Hughes all over his rear. Ahead of Di Grassi, Wehrlein quickly escaped, whilst Dennis was over four-seconds ahead of the second placed German.

Jake Dennis Claims Famous Victory

As the race moved towards its climax, Dennis was absolutely dominating proceedings, with the Brit looking all but certain to claim the first win of the Gen3 era. Wehrlein too looked comfortable in second, whilst the fight for third heated up between Di Grassi, Hughes and Lotterer. As the race reached Lap Thirty-Four, race control announced that there would be an additional five laps added onto the end of the race, as a result of the three Safety Cars.

Gaps were seen throughout the field, with all eyes being glued on the fight for third. Di Grassi continued to defend like an animal; the Brazilian was clearly using all of his Formula E experience to his advantage. Di Grassi, Hughes and Lotterer remained impeccably close, with Lotterer having brushed the rear of the McLaren rookie in-front. The trio’s squabble allowed Sébastian Buemi to rapidly close them down, making it a four-way fight for the final rostrum position.

There was suddenly action throughout the field, as both DS Penske drivers had damage to their front-wing, with Vergne’s being substantial. René Rast and Oliver Rowland then collided at the back, resulting in Rast pulling to the side of the circuit, making him the fifth retirement of the race. At the front and the battle for third became a five-way fight, as António Félix da Costa joined the fight. Whilst all this was going on, Dennis found himself almost eight-seconds in the lead, as he started the last lap.

Wehrlein too looked safe for second, with Di Grassi having suddenly become safe in third. It was Hughes who was then in trouble, as Lotterer sealed a smart move on the rookie driver for fourth. As this was happening, though, his team-mate claimed the first victory of Season Nine, followed by Wehrlein and Di Grassi, who fought relentlessly hard for his rostrum. Lotterer sealed fourth whilst Hughes had to settle for fifth on his debut, with Buemi, Da Costa, Mitch Evans, Nick Cassidy and Vandoorne claiming the remaining points places.

Victory means that Dennis heads into the Diriyah E-Prix double-header in two weeks as the Drivers’ Championship leader, with the Brit having also snatched an additional point for fastest lap. Wehrlein and Di Grassi sit eight points behind the Andretti driver, with Di Grassi having claimed an additional three points for claiming pole position. In the Constructors’ Championship and its Avalanche Andretti who sit at the top heading into Saudi Arabia, thanks to a one-four for the team.

Mexico City E-Prix Round 1: Race Full Results

127Jake DennisGBRAvalanche Andretti Formula E58:25.974
294Pascal WehrleinGERTAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team+7.816
311Lucas Di GrassiBRZMahindra Racing+18.611
436André LottererGERAvalanche Andretti Formula E+19.161
55Jake HughesGBRNEOM McLaren Formula E Team+20.289
616Sébastian BuemiCHEEnvision Racing+20.714
713António Félix da CostaPORTAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team+21.051
89Mitch EvansNZLJaguar TCS Racing+24.758
937Nick CassidyNZLEnvision Racing+29.150
101Stoffel VandoorneBELDS Penske+29.662
117Maximilian GüntherGERMaserati MSG Racing+30.276
1225Jean-Éric VergneFRADS Penske+31.141
138Oliver RowlandGBRMahindra Racing+31.537
1451Nico MuellerCHEABT CUPRA Formula E Team+31.951
1523Sacha FenestrazFRANissan Formula E Team+32.355
163Sérgio Sette CâmaraBRZNIO 333 Racing+35.205
1733Dan TicktumGBRNIO 333 Racing+1:14.372
1858René RastGERNEOM McLaren Formula E TeamDNF
1948Edoardo MortaraCHEMaserati MSG RacingDNF
2010Sam BirdGBRJaguar TCS RacingDNF
2117Norman NatoFRANissan Formula E TeamDNF
224Robin FrijnsNEDABT CUPRA Formula E TeamDNF
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