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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Can Dennis and Andretti fend off the Components E pack?

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Components E launched into a brand new period simply over a yr in the past, with the contemporary, extra highly effective Gen3 machines providing groups the chance to reset the hierarchy and set up a revised pecking order within the championship.

For Jake Dennis and Andretti Autosport – now renamed Andretti International – any ideas that they might be on the high of that new aggressive order had been a distant dream after a lacklustre pre-season check seemingly put them on the again foot. Quick-forward 12 months, and the 28-year-old Briton is in a really totally different place; he enters the 2024 season with the coveted #1 on the entrance of his Andretti machine after claiming his maiden Components E title in dramatic vogue on house soil final yr.

Dennis enters the brand new season, which will get beneath manner this weekend in Mexico Metropolis, as the driving force to beat and, in idea at the very least, with every thing to lose because the all-electric championship embarks on its tenth season of racing. However that’s not how he feels.

“To be trustworthy, I truly really feel barely much less stress than I might say I usually do,” professes Dennis. “I really feel like I’ve type of confirmed to myself, confirmed to the crew, that I can ship when it issues and, coming into the season, I really feel much more relaxed, that I don’t must show myself and show my price.

“We’ve come off the again of a really sturdy season, undoubtedly my finest by way of efficiency and consistency all year long, delivering when it mattered. It was clearly right down to a powerful bundle from the Porsche powertrain and clearly the Andretti aspect, however there’s no two methods about it: I’m coming into the season assured in myself, assured contained in the crew and simply hopeful we will replicate what we achieved final season. We’re very a lot conscious how tough it’s going to be, and the rivalry between three or 4 groups goes to be very excessive.”

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Dennis’s quest for back-to-back Components E titles might be a tough one, with Jean-Eric Vergne the one driver in a position to handle the feat to this point between 2017-19. Getting a foothold within the factors might be a tough job for all given the frenetic and unpredictable nature of races, a consequence of the high-drag design of a Gen3 automobile that turned final yr’s contests into slipstreaming battles that nobody needed to guide, and are prone to be a mainstay as soon as once more.

Photograph by: Malcolm Griffiths / Motorsport Images

Dennis will carry the coveted #1 on his automobile this yr as he bids to change into solely the second driver to efficiently defend their FE title

It’s additionally unlikely that Porsche, which powers buyer crew Andretti, will be capable of depend on the identical early-season dominance that Dennis and manufacturing facility driver Pascal Wehrlein loved final yr, which allowed them to share the wins within the opening three races. Come the tip of the marketing campaign, it was Jaguar and buyer crew Envision that had been the strongest, and it’s a battle that appears set to rumble as soon as extra.

“I don’t assume there’s any denying that Jaguar undoubtedly turned as much as the final a part of the season with an especially sturdy efficiency,” admits Dennis. “It simply so occurred that Rome and London undoubtedly performed into the strengths of their powertrain with a whole lot of tight, twisty corners, and that’s completely suited in the direction of them.

“However, there have been sure circuits the place they didn’t carry out at, like Portland for instance, the place they struggled and clearly we scored huge factors. I might undoubtedly say they appear to be they’ve in all probability discovered some further tempo, however I believe it was simply the observe configuration greater than something.

“Porsche and Jaguar are working extraordinarily arduous and finally, we wish to beat them, they wish to beat us and it’s going to be undoubtedly a dogfight. I’m very positive of it” Jake Dennis

“We simply have to not be complacent and hold working arduous. I believe each groups, Porsche and Jaguar, are working extraordinarily arduous and finally, we wish to beat them, they wish to beat us and it’s going to be undoubtedly a dogfight. I’m very positive of it.”

Dennis’s essential rivals from 2023, Nick Cassidy and Mitch Evans, have joined forces at Jaguar to create a Kiwi superteam, and no fewer than seven Components E champions might be on the grid this season. Vergne and 2022 title winner Stoffel Vandoorne stay collectively at DS Penske, whereas 2016-17 king Lucas di Grassi has left Mahindra and returned to the Abt Cupra squad, the place he has loved a lot success previously in its former guise as Audi.

Taking di Grassi’s place at Mahindra is returning 2021 champion Nyck de Vries (see overleaf) following his truncated spell in Components 1, with Sebastien Buemi and Antonio Felix da Costa – title winners in 2015-16 and 2019-20 respectively – remaining with Envision and Porsche respectively. Elsewhere, Sam Chicken has left Jaguar and joins Jake Hughes at McLaren. Chicken is one among 5 drivers to have made 100 begins in Components E, and is simply a kind of centenarians to not have gained a title.

Oliver Rowland returns to Nissan after parting methods with Mahindra in the course of final season. He replaces Norman Nato, who joins Dennis at Andretti, to companion Sacha Fenestraz, who impressed in his maiden marketing campaign.

Cassidy posed a strong challenge to Dennis with Jag customer squad Envision last year, and has now joined the works team

Photograph by: Sam Bagnall / Motorsport Images

Cassidy posed a powerful problem to Dennis with Jag buyer squad Envision final yr, and has now joined the works crew

The one rookie becoming a member of the grid this yr is Indian Jehan Daruvala, who pairs up with Maximilian Guenther at Maserati MSG, the squad having cut up with crew principal James Rossiter in the course of the low season, whereas the driving force line-up of Dan Ticktum and Sergio Sette Camara stays unchanged on the newly rebranded ERT crew, previously NIO 333.

With many points of the automobiles homologated from final season carrying into this yr, a basic consensus among the many paddock is that the pecking order from final time period is unlikely to vary a lot, at the very least initially, with a key space of growth being every crew’s software program.

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Practically three months have handed since pre-season testing at Valencia, the place operating was restricted as a consequence of a storage battery hearth and observe motion was suspended for a day and a half whereas the FIA investigated. The reason for the blaze was decided to be “an arc flash” and there stay no considerations with the batteries, all of which went again to provider WAE (previously referred to as Williams Superior Engineering) for refurbishment as initially deliberate.

The winter break could have supplied groups with loads of possibilities to make positive factors within the hope of usurping Dennis and Andretti from the highest spot, and the 2024 season guarantees to be as unpredictable as ever as Components E hits a decade.

Previous champion de Vries returns with Mahindra and will be one of several contenders vying to knock Dennis off his perch

Photograph by: Andrew Ferraro / Motorsport Images

Earlier champion de Vries returns with Mahindra and might be one among a number of contenders vying to knock Dennis off his perch

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