Formula E’s champion makes an ominous return to form

Formula E’s champion makes an ominous return to form

Defending Formula E champion Jake Dennis made an ominous return to form in the opening Diriyah E-Prix of the double-header event.

Andretti driver Dennis had made a low-key start to his title defence at Mexico City a fortnight ago, driving from 14th on the grid to claim two points for a ninth-place finish while Pascal Wehrlein – driving for Andretti’s supplier Porsche – took a dominant victory.

But Dennis returned to form in Diriyah, qualifying in third place and then quickly carving his way to the front of the field. He held the lead despite an early valiant – and in the end failed – effort from Mitch Evans.

Dennis wasn’t really challenged thereafter, pumping in consecutive fastest laps and stretching his final advantage to 13 seconds at the chequered flag.

“We’ve had a difficult start to the season, turned it around and got my biggest win in Formula E – and it can’t be far off the best,” Dennis said.

“These days don’t come very often.”

They do indeed not come very often but Dennis had a few en route to his 2023 title and this race was ominously reminiscent of some of the drives that were the backbone of his title victory last year.

Behind him Evans and Jean-Eric Vergne almost single-handily made the first Diriyah E-Prix a more exciting affair than the rather drab Mexico City opener.

Evans had the clear advantage by the end of the race but it was Vergne with the track position – and as ever some canny bare-knuckled defensive driving.

“He f***ing moves under braking guys,” Evans told his Jaguar team, which was also managing the first test of its new superteam driver line-up.

Nick Cassidy’s arrival at Jaguar for 2024 prompted question marks over how the team would handle having two of 2023’s top three performers in the same team.

Diriyah was the first test of that with the team instructing Evans to let Cassidy through at one stage as Cassidy still needed to take both of his attack modes. This was with the understanding that Cassidy would then let Evans back through later.

This turned out to be fairly unproblematic despite a radio issue for Cassidy and anger over how it was managed from Evans.

“You guys didn’t help me at all this f***ing race I’m not going to lie,” Evans told his team after the race.

Evans ended up finishing behind Cassidy after losing his place on the podium to an audacious last-lap attack on Vergne for second.

That left Vergne second behind runaway winner Dennis with Cassidy making it two successive podiums for Jaguar.

Sam Bird was fourth for McLaren ahead of his ex-team-mate Evans with Norman Nato in the second Andretti rounding out the top six.

The points-scorers were completed by Maximilian Guenther (Maserati), Pascal Wehrlein (Porsche), Sergio Sette Camara (ERT) and Robin Frijns (Envision).


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