London E-Prix 1 – Jake Dennis continued his amazing run in London to seal the championship in a twice Red Flagged race while Mitch Evans took the race win.
Thanks to Mitch Evans’ penalty from Rome, where he crashed into Nick Cassidy, it was the two main championship challengers – Cassidy and Jake Dennis – who ended up sharing the front row for the first of the weekend’s London E-Prixs. Evans, though he did take the points for pole, will be starting P6 just ahead of Pascal Wehrlein.
It was an ideal start for Envision with Sebastien Buemi getting past Dennis on to take P2 and give Cassidy a bit of a buffer. The Jaguar driver got the better of Dan Ticktum for P5 in the opening laps.
The first Attack Modes were activated on lap 3, but all outside the top ten. The following lap Ticktum took his first two minutes, falling back to P8 as a result and letting Evans into P5 and it wasn’t long before he dispatched Rene Rast and was behind Dennis on track.
Cassidy activated his first two minutes on lap 5, remaining in the lead while there was a bit of chaos further back as Stoffel Vandoorne tried to go down the inside of Norman Nato at T1 but instead tagged the back of Edoardo Mortara, spinning him.
There was another incident at T19, Robin Frijns lost it in his ABT Cupra and slid across the track, hitting Sergio Sette Camara as he tried to regain control while Lucas di Grassi got caught behind Frijns’ car as he tried to avoid the cars.
The end of lap 7 saw Cassidy activate the last of his Attack while lap 8 saw Dennis miss a loop as he tried to activate his Attack Mode, he fell back to P5 behind Rast with nothing to show for it. He did get the place back the following lap when Rast took his six minute attack.
At the front, Buemi had gotten past Cassidy while Evans also demoted his fellow Kiwi to P3. The Jaguar driver took over the lead when Buemi took his two minute boost and Envision didn’t swap their cars which left Cassidy vulnerable to Dennis right behind.
On lap 10 Dennis muscled his way past Cassidy, Rast followed through and got the better run than Dennis so the Andretti driver remained in P4 but Rast and Cassidy on either sides of him had switched.
Evans remained in the lead after activating his six minute Attack Mode while Rast was on a charge, passing Buemi and setting his sights on Evans. Lap 13 saw contact between Cassidy and Dennis as the Andretti driver got blocked and squished between the Envisions. Cassidy called for the team to swap the order of their cars; they didn’t. Lap 15 saw the Kiwi’s front wing break and had to pull off to the side with a smoking front left wheel as the wing got caught.
The Safety Car was called out on lap 16 as Cassidy’s wing had fallen off in the middle of the track while the Kiwi was able to make it back to the pits for repairs. He rejoined at the very back while replays showed the damage came from contact with Buemi as the Swiss racer defended his position from his teammate.
The race resumed at the start of lap 19, Evans continuing to lead from Buemi and Rast. Wehrlein and Dennis in P4 and P5 still had all eight minutes of their Attack Mode time to use.
Lap 21 saw Dennis fail to activate his Attack once again, Sam Bird behind getting his two minutes without a problem. He finally managed to get his six minute stint going on the following lap, briefly falling behind the Maserati of Maximilian Guenther but got back through in good order.
Cassidy pulled his car into his garage to retire on lap 23, and unless something happened to Dennis, the Envision racer would be out of the championship fight.
Wehrlein had his own issue with Attack activation, dropping behind Dennis as a result but made it work the next time around. And on lap 28 he and Dennis were side-by-side fighting for P4. At the end of that lap Dennis went into the Attack zone and managed to take his final two minute stint without incident.
Right behind him Sacha Fenestraz went nose first into the barriers after having been launched over the NIO 333 of Sette Camara. The Safety Car was called before the race was Red Flagged on lap 32 as the barrier needed to be repaired. Rast and Wehrlein made contact just before the Red Flag, damaging their front wings, which meant they had to start at the back after having repairs during the suspension.
After a 22 minute pause, the cars got back out on track with the Safety Car leading them out of the pits and around to a rolling start. Evans and Buemi took their final Attacks, 2 minutes for the Jaguar and six for the Envision with Evans holding the lead while Buemi fell to P4 behind Antonio Felix da Costa and Dennis and seemed to have lost pace as he did.
Just as there was one additional lap announced to have been added to the race, proceedings were Red Flagged once again for chaos at T19. Buemi and Nato got caught up as the Nissan tried to pass and the two ended up in the wall, Bird unable to avoid them and hit the back while things just fell apart from there with the track ending up completely blocked.
After another 17 minute break the cars headed back out on track with Evans leading da Costa and Dennis out behind the Safety Car for another rolling start. There was no on-track change at the front but a three minute time penalty for da Costa for a technical infraction demoted him right to the back so Dennis won the championship with a P2 while Buemi ended in P3.
Nato took P4 ahead of Bird while Sette Camara was P6. Mortara took P7 ahead of di Grassi while the final points went to Ticktum and Guenther.
While the Drivers’ Championship is now settled, the Teams’ is still up for grabs tomorrow – Envision are just out in front with 268 points to their supplier, Jaguar’s, 266 while Porsche have 239 keeping them just ahead of their customer team, Andretti, who have 236.
Post-race, Nato and Guenther were among those who were handed penalties, they got 5 seconds added to their race time each which dropped the Nissan driver down to P9 and Guenther out of the points. Wehrlein took P10 and the point for fastest lap in the top ten as Rast, who had been ahead of him, was also penalised.
On Sunday morning Sette Camara was disqualified from the race for not changing his damaged nose after an official told NIO 333 to do so during the second Red Flag. The team said the damage had occurred before the first Red Flag and they felt it was safe which is they opted to leave it as it was.
That dropped the Brazilian from P5, elevating those who had been behind and bringing McLaren’s Jake Hughes into P10 for not only that point but also the fastest lap in the top ten point, snatching it away from Wehrlein as the Brit had set a 1:12.714, 0.05 seconds quicker than the Porsche driver.
It looks like Porsche are going to appeal da Costa’s penalty as the technical infraction turned out to be as a result of his front right being below the minimum allowed tyre pressure. The pressure having dropped due to a slow puncture that the team had apparently been told they could continue to race on. The penalty not only took a podium from them but also made their Teams’ Championship bid more difficult.
Before the final qualifying session took place Jaguar and Envision were tied on 268 points, Porsche on 241 in P3 and Andretti with 236.