Formula E in London: Mitch Evans wins chaotic Saturday race - Jake Dennis is 2023 world champion!
Jake Dennis is the 2023 Formula E world champion! In an extremely turbulent and gripping Saturday race in London, a second-place finish was enough for the Andretti driver to win the title early. Victory on Saturday went to Jaguar driver Mitch Evans. Sebastien Buemi completed the podium and secured important points for his Envision team. The team world championship will not be decided until Sunday.
Pole-sitter Nick Cassidy came out of his grid position well and defended his lead into turn 1, but behind him it immediately got close: Sebastien Buemi, the second Envision racer, squeezed past title favorite Jake Dennis and took over second place! "I got hit multiple few times in turn 1!" complained Dennis on the radio. However, he made it through the first lap in third without any damage. Behind, Dan Ticktum lost two positions: both Rene Rast and Mitch Evans passed the Brit. Ticktum tried to counter on the next lap, but Evans held his own.
On lap 3, the first drivers were already getting their attack mode, but no one from the leading group except Ticktum. At the front, Cassidy was able to pull away slightly. His teammate Buemi, on the other hand, seemed to hold Dennis up - possibly deliberately. This smart team-strategy approach put Cassidy in the position of being able to get his first attack mode without losing the lead.
Turn 1 saw a crash between Edo Mortara and Stoffel Vandoorne: the Belgian misjudged his braking point and crashed into the rear of the Maserati, whereupon Mortara spun but was somehow able to continue. There was also a clash at the end of the lap: Robin Frijns dueled with Sergio Sette Camara, with the two coming together in the penultimate corner. Both cars interlocked, with especially the Dutchman's ABT getting in the way of Lucas di Grassi. Both came to a complete stop and had to regroup before continuing on their way.
Plenty of duels & Envision drama!
Some action happened up front as well, with Evans attacking Dennis on lap 7 and surprisingly passing his title rival on the inside. Meanwhile, Cassidy was already picking up his second attack mode. The dramatic turns for Dennis didn't stop there: The Briton drove through the attack zone but missed the activation loops and dropped back to fifth behind Rast. When the German later activated the attack mode (successfully), he fell back behind Dennis again. Evans was now driving at the front because the two Envision drivers had gone through the attack zone.
At the end of lap 10, Dennis surprisingly attacked Cassidy and squeezed around the outside of the 19/20 corner combination. Dennis was now back in front, but not for long. Cassidy didn't let up either and returned the attacked on lap 13. With an equally hard style of racing, he fought his way past Dennis again and took over fourth place from him. Ahead of them: Evans, Rast and Buemi. Miraculously, there had been no accidents in the leading group until then.
Then the London E-Prix took another dramatic turn, with Cassidy trying to get past his teammate Buemi again. The latter, however, defended himself as if the title was at stake for himself, but apparently without receiving any instruction from his team. In turn 2 there was contact between the two Envision drivers when Cassidy tried to get back in line behind Buemi! The totally unnecessary crash between teammates took Cassidy out of the title fight, as a little later Cassidy's damaged front wing fell off and slid under his car. Cassidy dragged himself back to the pits to have the wing replaced.
Dennis misses attack zone twice & rages against Porsche
Due to the numerous pieces of debris on the track, race control called the safety car onto the track. The order of the top 5 at this point: Evans, Buemi, Rast, Wehrlein and Dennis. The latter had already been hanging behind his marque colleague from Germany for several laps and complained loudly on the radio several times that the Porsche driver wasn't letting him past - Andretti and Porsche have a powertrain partnership. Apparently there had been agreements the night before the race about what would be expected of the drivers in certain scenarios - at least according to Dennis.
At the end of lap 18, the safety car came back in. Initially, there were no position changes in the top 10. On lap 21, Dennis tried the attack zone for the second time and missed the activation again - more drama! "My attack mode isn't working!" he yelled over the radio. One lap later, however, it worked. So there was obviously no technical problem. Then there was contact between Max Günther and Antonio Felix da Costa, and again parts flew. Cassidy, meanwhile, abandoned his race - and his last title hopes - in the pits on lap 23.
Next, Wehrlein also missed the attack mode and dropped behind Dennis, who was now fourth. Evans, Buemi and Rast continued to drive in front of him. Felix da Costa led the second half of the top 10, driving ahead of Norman Nato, Sam Bird, Günther and Stoffel Vandoorne. On lap 27 of 36, the field was still very close together. Not a minute went by without gripping duels.
Major crash by Fenestraz leads to race interruption
Then there was another heavy accident: Sacha Fenestraz hit the rear of Sergio Sette Camara at turn 15, mounted the Nio 333 and then slid straight into the run-off zone of turn 16 at high speed, smashing hard into the TecPro barrier front-first. The front end of his Nissan took heavy damage, and the safety car and medical car immediately came onto the track. Fenestraz, however, was able to get out under his own power.
Fenestraz goes OVER Ticktum!!!!!- ABB FIA Formula E World Championship (@FIAFormulaE) July 29, 2023
Big shunt for Fenestraz as he collides with the NIO 333 driver and is in the wall.
Safety car is out and both drivers are okay.@Hankook_Sport #LondonEPrix pic.twitter.com/35n5d1j3Rc
At almost the same time, there was also a collision further up the front: Wehrlein set off on the start and finish straight to attack his compatriot Rast. However, the McLaren driver on the inside lane was apparently unable to brake in time and steered into the side of the Porsche driver. Wehrlein slid into the TecPro barrier at a 45-degree angle, damaged his front wing and dropped to the back of the field. This meant the next title contender was out of the championship fight with theoretical remaining chances!
Rast's car had also suffered major damage - his front wing had slipped under his car. On lap 32, race control waved red flags and interrupted the race. "The repairs to the TecPro barrier are taking longer than expected," race director Scot Elkins radioed to all teams. "Drivers are allowed to leave their cars. I will give you a warning in time for the race to start again." Rast had parked his damaged McLaren on the track shortly before the stoppage was called, but was later expected to be able to continue at the rear of the field.
Buemi loses pace & causes pile-up
After a 21-minute break, the race resumed with a "rolling" start. There were still four race laps to go. Evans defended his lead ahead of Buemi and Felix da Costa. The man from New Zealand drove through the Attack Zone and was able to maintain first place - cheering in the Jaguar box. Buemi, on the other hand, lost propulsion after his own Attack Mode activation and suddenly dropped back - disaster for the championship leading team Envision! Felix da Costa thus took over second place, Dennis was now third. Behind, Buemi tried desperately to defend his position against Norman Nato.
In turn 19, Nato showed up late on the inside lane to overtake Buemi, who held up the entire field. Buemi steered against the Frenchman, however, and a collision ensued. As a result, Buemi and Nato slid into the TecPro barrier, so that Bird and Vandoorne also drove up and got wedged in. There was no way through anymore. There were even more slight rear-end collisions behind them - the next red flag! "Absolutely ridiculous from Seb (Buemi), ridiculous!" scolded Bird on the radio. In addition, Roberto Merhi and Jake Hughes had clashed shortly before: The Mahindra driver sent the Briton into the wall of turn 3.
Once again, all the remaining drivers headed into the pit lane and lined up. However, the top 3 - Evans, Felix da Costa and Dennis - had completed one more lap than all the other blocked drivers, leading to some confusion over the order for the restart. So after the break, race director Elkins first ordered all the other drivers behind the safety car onto the track to "lap back". One lap later, the top 3 sorted themselves out behind the safety car.
Dennis' sprint to the title
With another "rolling" start and two laps remaining, the race continued at race pace once more. Evans again easily defended his lead on the restart. Behind them still: Felix da Costa, Dennis - on course for the title - Buemi and Nato. Yes, even those who had caused the accident were able to continue. Energy management now no longer played a role: All drivers set off for the final sprint with full power. However, there were no more significant changes an the front.
Evans crossed the finish line as the winner, Felix da Costa was second, but almost immediately received a time penalty for a technical offense, which dropped him to last place! Dennis moved up to 2nd place as a result and secured the 2023 World Championship title! Buemi completed the podium, finishing ahead of Bird, Sette Camara, who repeated the best result of the season for Nio 333, and Mortara.
The Formula E team world championship won't be decided for a little over 24 hours, as four teams still have a shot at the title: Envision, Jaguar, Porsche and Andretti. It will likely come down to a duel between the Jaguar factory team and its customer team Envision. Envision has just an eight-point lead over Jaguar with one race to go. The second race at the Hankook London E-Prix - the last of the 2023 season - takes place on Sunday. The start is again at 6:00 pm (CEST).