BMW i Andretti’s Jake Dennis earned his first ever Formula E win as he led from start to finish in Round 6 of the Valencia E-Prix.
In a race that was much less dramatic than last time out in Valencia, Brit Dennis came out on top in front of Tag Heuer Porsche’s Andre Lotterer and Mahindra Racing’s Alex Lynn.
Dennis held on under fierce pressure from Lynn and ROKiT Venturi’s Norman Nato, as the leaders of the drivers table failed to register any points.
From start to finish
For the first time in a few races, the race got underway without the Safety Car as conditions were clear and sunny.
The leading pack consisted of three British drivers, as Dennis led Lynn and Nio 333’s Tom Blomqvist in third.
It was a quiet first half of the race with the attention focused on Lynn’s pursuit of the top, having positioned himself on the tail of Dennis to make the most of his slipstream.
Dennis had said prior to the race that it would be challenging to lead the race because of the slipstream, but he was managing to keep Lynn’s sustained pressure under control.
A tricky qualifying process saw Jaguar Racing’s Sam Bird and Mitch Evans start in 22nd and 21st, with the two Mercedes EQ drivers, De Vries and Vandoorne, also starting towards the back of the grid.
DS TECHEETAH’S Jean Éric-Vergne sensed an opportunity to jump into the podium places as he nipped in front of Blomqvist, who had begun to fall down the pecking order after a bright start.
The race was relatively calm after 20 minutes, but with drivers needing to trigger their attack modes, the action was soon to unfold.
Dennis took the plunge and triggered his attack mode and was quick enough to restore his place at the front of the pack, but had Nio’s Oliver Turvey behind him this time as he nipped in front of Lynn.
Turvey’s time in second was short lived, however, falling all the way back down into fifth as Lynn resumed his pursuit of Dennis.
Vergne and Lotterer were both jostling for the top places, with the two of them swapping between 4th and 5th.
Mercedes’ Stoffel Vandoorne was quietly making his way up the grid and pushed himself into 10th, having started the race in 17th.
The driver who had made the most places however was Audi’s René Rast, who had ruthlessly charged his way up into 3rd after some superb pieces of driving.
The turning point of the race came at turn 9 as Lynn, who had been so close to Dennis throughout the entirety of the race, was clipped by Norman Nato and was sent stumbling back into 6th position, allowing Dennis to extend his gap at the front.
With energy on his side, Dennis upped his pace from this moment on had his eyes firmly fixed on his first Formula E victory.
Round 5 of the Valencia E-Prix was packed full of incidents and collisions, but so far the drivers seemed to have learnt their lessons, particularly at the sharp, sneaking turns of 11 and 12 which had caused carnage previously.
However, having made steady progress, Vandoorne clipped his wing on the barrier after he tried to squeeze through a gap in a tight corner, up the inside of Buemi who refused to make way.
Vandoorne’s race was over and with yesterday’s winner, De Vries, languishing towards the back of the table, it was a day to forget for Mercedes.
Nato, now in second, was closing the gap on Dennis but a five-second penalty loomed over him following his incident with Lynn earlier on.
With a few seconds remaining on the race clock, Dennis eased up to ensure the next lap would be the last and he attacked it with plenty of energy remaining.
The finish was much more straightforward than yesterday and a jubilant Dennis crossed the line to register his first ever Formula E win, ahead of Porsche’s Lotterer and Mahindra’s Lynn, who had managed to climb back into the podium places following Nato’s penalty.
The result doesn’t do much to the drivers table, with Mercedes’ De Vries and Vandoorne still 1st and 2nd, ahead of Jaguar’s Sam Bird in 3rd. The team standings remain the same, with Mercedes leading the way ahead of Jaguar and Envision Virgin Racing.
The teams head off to Monaco next, with a new track layout to contend with. Round 7 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship taking place on 8th May 2021.