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Avalanche Andretti driver Jake Dennis

Have Jake Dennis’ championship dreams ground to a halt?

Nick Cassidy might prove a threat to the Avalanche Andretti driver

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An incident with Dan Ticktum in São Paulo resulted in a DNF for Dennis. How are his championship chances shaping up?

Jake Dennis at the Diriyah E-Prix
Dennis is second in the drivers’ championship — but that’s a position that’s under threat. (Image credit: Sportmediaset)

The inaugural São Paulo E-Prix was a real nail-biter. The race lead passed from driver to driver across the course of 31 laps. It wasn’t until the final few corners of the new street circuit that it became clear who would be crowned the winner. 

Prior to the race, particular attention was on championship leader Pascal Wehrlein and Jake Dennis, second in the drivers’ standings. The pair started 18th and 14th on the grid respectively.

With Dennis within closer reach of scoring points than Wehrlein, it seemed like an opportunity for him to try and close the gap to the Porsche driver. Unluckily for Dennis, this wasn’t the case.

With Wehrlein scoring points in São Paulo, and with other drivers on the grid now looming large in Dennis’ peripheral, it looks like the Brit’s championship hopes could be in jeopardy.

Early exit from São Paulo

São Paulo ended in a DNF for Jake Dennis, adding to the Andretti driver’s chain of nil-point finishes.  

Dennis’ championship hopes could be dwindling. He remains second in the standings, but not by much. Nick Cassidy’s P2 finish has elevated him to third, with only a single point between himself and Dennis.

The Brit was forced to retire after an incident with compatriot Dan Ticktum. Dennis was running in P11 and chasing a points-finish when the NIO driver careened into the back of his Avalanche Andretti.

As reported by The Race, Dennis was clearly frustrated when describing the event:

“That’s two races now where I’ve been driving my own race and some plonker 100 metres behind just forgets to brake and just smashes into me.”

“It’s just typical,” added Dennis. “I don’t know what else I can do. I don’t know what he was thinking; I’ve seen the onboard and he’s like in his own little world.”

Bad luck

Similar misfortune befell Dennis in Hyderabad last month. While running in a comfortable fourth, McLaren’s Rene Rast rear-ended Dennis on lap 26. Dennis ended up finishing P16.

Prior to Hyderabad, Dennis and championship leader Pascal Wehrlein had been on fairly even standing. There were only six points between the two drivers, Wehrlein just ahead with 68 points. A solid finish within the top 10 in Hyderabad would have enabled Dennis to keep close behind Wehrlein and remain a threat to the Porsche driver.

Wehrlein ended up finishing P4 in Hyderabad, extending his lead in the standings. The German driver inched ahead of Dennis by a further 12 points.

Cape Town presented itself as another opportunity for Dennis to begin to catch up to Wehrlein, as a first lap shunt forced the Porsche driver into early retirement. Dennis put in a strong drive, working his way up to ninth from 14th. However, a penalty for under-pressured tyres sent Dennis tumbling back down the order, finishing P13.

The only silver lining of Cape Town for Dennis was that Wehrlein hadn’t been able to widen the gap between them yet again.

What next?

A P7 finish in São Paulo handed Wehrlein six points. Not as many points as the German might have liked — but, crucially, it’s six more points than Dennis won.

As Wehrlein’s championship lead creeps ahead, Nick Cassidy is now the latest threat to Dennis’ championship campaign. São Paulo marked the Envision driver’s third podium in a row, allowing him to leapfrog Jean-Eric Vergne for third in the standings.

Alarmingly for Dennis, there’s barely anything between second, third and fourth in the Drivers’ Championship. Though Cassidy is only one point behind Dennis, he isn’t completely clear of Vergne. The DS Penske driver sits only a single point behind Cassidy, promising to remain a threat.

But even then, Vergne’s lead on António Félix da Costa is only marginal. The Portuguese driver trails just two points behind his old teammate.

Dennis’ position as second in the standings is a precarious one. The Brit needs to begin to catch up with Wehrlein to remain in serious contention for the championship. Not only this, but Dennis also needs to score some points to fend off the likes of Cassidy and Vergne.

Success in the next coming races will be imperative if Dennis is to keep his championship dreams alive. With the double header in Berlin up next, there’s an opportunity for a decent points haul.

The question remains: will Jake Dennis have better luck in Berlin?

Featured Image Credit: FIA

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