Dennis furious after "ridiculous" maneuver by Wehrlein: "Can't protest against Porsche"
Jake Dennis has been on the podium at the last three Formula E races. On Saturday in Jakarta in particular, the Andretti driver came close to his second win of the season. However, a dirty starting position and a harsh defensive maneuver by eventual race winner Pascal Wehrlein prevented success. After the race, Dennis railed against his brand colleague from Porsche.
Dennis had qualified second, just ahead of his world championship rival Wehrlein, but barely got off his starting position - like almost all the drivers on the right side of the grid. "I had way too much wheel spin on the dust, which caused me to drop back to fourth place. I already lost the race at the start," the Briton told in the TV world signal shortly after the race.
With a slightly different attack-mode strategy than his direct rivals, Dennis worked his way back up to second place after 20 laps and chased Wehrlein until the end of the race. On lap 24 he ventured a first attack: Dennis headed for the dirty inside lane, but Wehrlein pulled over at the last moment and drove in front of his car. Dennis had to brake hard to avoid a collision.
This action infuriated Dennis: "I'm honestly pretty annoyed. Pascal's maneuver was ridiculous and a bit aggressive. I had to slam on the brakes to avoid crashing into his rear. I honestly can't explain how he got away with it (without a penalty). For me, that was on the limit."
Wehrlein: "I defended pretty hard, I have to say"
Even Wehrlein admitted shortly after the race: "I have defended pretty hard, I have to say that too." In the end, however, he got away without a penalty and, thanks to the vehement maneuver, claimed his third victory of the season.
In Dennis' view, other drivers would have shown how it's done: "I had two quite good maneuvers against Stoffel (Vandoorne) and Max (Günther) before that. The two guys did it perfectly and left exactly as much space as was necessary for one car. Although even those maneuvers were at the limit with the dust."
"But Pascal just pulled over completely towards the wall, and I had to hit the brakes very hard halfway of the straight," Dennis continued to scold. "He had actually already decided to lift (get off the throttle early), and then you just have to leave space. He didn't."
Dennis: "Can't protest against them"
Under normal circumstances, Dennis and Andretti would probably have lodged a protest against such a late lane change. However, Andretti is Porsche's customer team, and apparently there is an understanding between the two teams not to incriminate each other.
"We can't protest against them because we also use a Porsche powertrain. Therefore... yeah... it's just ridiculous," Dennis said.
Generally, overtaking maneuvers in Saturday's race in Jakarta were a difficult affair, the Brit explains: "It's really dusty here. You've got to have a good amount of trust in the guy in front of you to give you the space that's needed. But of course you also have to be able to rely on your systems and the car. When you step on the brakes, you just have to hope."
A race "like 36 qualifying laps in a row"
After "slipstream battles" in Sao Paulo and Berlin, the race in Jakarta went "completely differently than expected" for Dennis. He explains, "It was more or less a flat-out race from the start - like 36 qualifying laps in a row. Especially at the front it was extremely difficult to overtake today. I think tomorrow we will see more overtaking in the first ten to 15 laps (thanks to a longer race distance). It was a very demanding race for all of us. It's just a shame that Pascal won."
For Sunday's race, Dennis has his sights set on victory, "We have a fast car in qualifying, although not quite as fast as Max's (Günther, Maserati). But from the first two rows of the grid we can win the race. Tomorrow the track should hopefully be a bit cleaner on the inside lane when more people overtake there."
How Dennis and his Andretti team perform in the second round in Indonesia will be revealed on Sunday morning. Racing starts again at 10 a.m. (CEST).