"Are you on drugs?!" - The miscalculation that cost Andretti & Nissan a Formula E podium chance in Rome
For several laps, world championship leader Jake Dennis led the Hankook Rome E-Prix before the Andretti driver's pace suddenly deteriorated. As the Briton, who dropped down to position 4, confirmed to e-Formula.news after the race, a miscalculation of the remaining race laps was the cause of his loss of positions. Andretti, however, wasn't alone in making this mistake.
It seemed like the near-perfect script for the championship, with three of the four drivers with the best chances of winning the world championship taking the top three places at the Hankook Rome E-Prix. Led by Jake Dennis (Andretti), the convoy around Nick Cassidy (Envision) and Mitch Evans (Jaguar) meandered around the street circuit in the Italian capital for laps. But then the lead car's pace suddenly dropped.
Within just a few corners, Dennis lost several seconds, and a little later Cassidy, Evans and even Max Günther (Maserati), who was driving behind them, had slipped through. What had happened? "It was looking good until I was told the revised lap number at some point," Dennis explained. "That was a bit of a mistake from the team, which meant a safe third place slipped away."
Negligence in the garage as the cause of the error?
The cause of the error was an incorrect projection by his team. Due to the safety car interventions, the race was extended by a total of two laps. Thus, instead of the planned 25, 27 laps took place. However, Andretti assumed for long periods that there would only be 26 laps of the Circuito Cittadino dell'EUR - and only noticed the error in the closing stages of the E-Prix. Furious, Dennis told Andretti on the radio about the miscalculation and asked in horror, "Are you on drugs?!"
Much calmer, he reflected to e-Formula.news after the race: "We could have corrected that earlier if we had known the right number of laps. I'm afraid we simply made a mistake there. After all, my guys don't just look at the laps, but at many other parameters. I think it was simply judged incorrectly. In hindsight, P3 would have been possible, and on that basis I'm happy that we only lost three points. I wouldn't have been able to keep up the pace of Nick and Mitch until the end anyway."
Fenestraz also affected by strategy error: "Then it was game over"
Dennis was not the only driver to struggle with a miscalculation of the remaining laps during the race: Sacha Fenestraz (Nissan), who had taken the lead shortly before the race was stopped, also complained after the E-Prix about a "strategy error on the team side." A strategy error, however, that the team noticed well before Andretti.
"They forgot to tell us to add a lap in the system on the dash. Obviously, if you have to do 15 laps instead of 16, the consumption per lap changes," the Frenchman said. "When I adjusted my targets, it changed everything and I was two, three seconds slower per lap. For me, at that point, it was game over."
While "a win was probably out of the question anyway, a podium would have been possible," says Fenestraz. After the strategy adjustment, he fell far behind - finishing in 10th position.
On Sunday, the Formula E race weekend continues in Italy. Once again, the race starts at 3 p.m. local time, with e-Formula.news covering the E-Prix extensively. Dennis, Fenestraz and Co. will try to add another chapter to the already dramatic script of the Formula E world championship at the third-to-last race of the season.