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Formula E Preview: London

Written by Vyas Ponnuri, Edited by Meghana Sree

Dennis leading last year's race at Londo; Image credit - Simon Galloway/Motorsport Images

Buckle up, and strap yourselves in for one last ride, as Season Nine of Formula E comes to a close with the double header in London, set to take place on 29th and 30th July, 2023.

It has been an enthralling season of Formula E racing action so far, with unpredictable, overtake-filled races, multiple winners, wild swings in the championship, and new venues getting their time in the sun. And the championship isn’t won until the last race is completed, and the last lap has been turned, on the tight and twisty circuit in London this time round. Drivers in the championship fight would definitely be aware of the unpredictability of the series.

But before we go ahead, let us look back at the events of the Rome E Prix. The weekend saw massive championship swings, with Jake Dennis taking a full 29 points on offer in the second race of the weekend. His nearest competitor in the standings, Nick Cassidy finished only 14th, and outside the points, having been hit by Mitch Evans earlier in the race.

Evans was coming off another full score in race one, having taken pole, race win, as well as the fastest lap to boot. It was yet another scintillating showing from a driver who excels around the streets of Rome, with four victories in five races around the Italian Capital.

Cassidy finished second, while Dennis lost out big time towards the end of race one, losing the podium to Maserati’s Max Gunther, while narrowly fending off an attack from the charging Jean-Eric Vergne and Nico Muller. While this closed up the standings, and Cassidy took the lead of the standings, Dennis’s showing 24 hours later put him in prime position to win a maiden Formula E title.

Andretti celebrating Dennis's triumph at Rome. Image credit - Andretti Autosport

The weekend’s showing was overshadowed by two large crashes, though. Sam Bird’s spin after going across a manhole cover at turn six caused a multi-car collision in race one, and a red flag, with as many as six cars out of the race. In race two, it was his teammate Evans who braked too late going into turn seven, and went into Cassidy, narrowly missing Jake Dennis’s Andretti car on the left.

This left Dennis with a free run to the victory, and put him 24 points ahead of Cassidy in the standings. And Dennis will fancy winning the title in race one itself, on Saturday, around a track he absolutely adores.

Speaking of the track the drivers will take to, for the upcoming weekend, it is located in the ExCel Arena, an exhibition and convention centre located in London. The 2.09 km (1.30 miles) long circuit first hosted a race in 2021, and is Formula E’s only indoor/outdoor circuit. The races have generally been entertaining, as drivers always face the challenges of transitioning from indoor to outdoor, and back under the lights indoors, lap after lap.

The London E Prix circuit; Credit - Envision Racing

The track starts with the start/finish straight located inside the ExCel Arena. Turn one is a sharp left-hander, tightening up on exit, immediately towards the right-hander of turn two. This has been an overtaking spot for drivers in the past, and battles have gone into turn two as well regularly.

Turn three beckons as the drivers emerge from turn two, another tight left hand turn, which takes the drivers to the double right-hand sections of turns four and five. This takes the drivers out of the ExCel Arena, and onto the downhill run to the tricky chicane of turns six and seven. This takes the drivers onto the kink of turn eight, and a short straight down to the crucial right hander of turn nine.

The exit off this corner is of utmost importance, as it leads onto a long straight section, and a potential overtaking opportunity into the quick chicane of turns 10 and 11. Another left-right chicane follows immediately after this, turns 12 and 13, leading onto another speed section of track, encompassing the right-hand kinks of turns 14 and 15. This section leads into the testing right-hander of turn 16, with a short left-hander immediately following. Crucially, attack mode is situated on the outside of turn 16, and this can make for exciting battles into the ensuing left-hander.

The final section of the track consists of the left-hander of turn 17, and a right into turn 18 leading to an uphill section of track. Turn 19, a sharp right-hander, takes the drivers back indoors, and the left at turn 20 takes the drivers back onto the main straight, and across the finish line, for a lap of the London E Prix circuit.

Dennis is the form driver heading into London. Image credits - Andrew Ferraro/LAT Images

Form Guide

And, who has the form around this racetrack? Earlier, you did read my mention of Jake Dennis and this being a circuit he adores. It is for good reason, as the home favourite has taken pole twice around this tricky circuit, both during the double-header last year. He won the first race held at this circuit in 2021, and once again won the first race of a double-header weekend in 2022. He lost out on making it an elusive double though, to Lucas Di Grassi, who was driving for the erstwhile Rokit Venturi team back then.

Stoffel Vandoorne also has a pole position to his name here, which came back in 2021, for the second race of the weekend. He also finished second in the first race of the weekend last season, and will look to end his tough season on a high around a circuit that bodes well for him.

The championship situation

All in all, Dennis looks the prime favourite to claim the Formula E title in race one itself, his 24-point gap a large enough cushion to prevent his nearest competitor from usurping him. Cassidy will need to score heavily, and still hope for other results to go his way, should he wish to fulfil his desire of winning a maiden Formula E championship.

As for the other championship contenders, Mitch Evans and Pascal Wehrlein, they are only in the championship fight mathematically, sitting 44 and 49 points off Dennis respectively. Both drivers will need a number of results to go their way, should they want to remain in contention even for Sunday’s race. They will need the top two to score no points, and for themselves to win, if they need to stay in contention, a tall order, even by Formula E’s unpredictable standards.

The same isn’t the case for the constructor’s standings, though, as it’s a four-way fight between Envision Racing, Porsche, Jaguar, and Avalanche Andretti. Envision head the standings with 253 points, 14 ahead of Porsche. Jaguar sit third, a further 11 back from Porsche, while Andretti have accumulated 218 points for the season. The battle is set to go down to the final round of the season, so, do keep your eyes peeled for the constructors’ battle across the weekend.

All in all, it’s set to be an exciting weekend of racing, bringing the successful debut season of the Gen3 era to a close. Teams and drivers are definitely prepared to risk it for the silverware on the line, and provide the fans some enthralling racing. Who will triumph, and excel (pun not intended) around the ExCel Arena? Only time will be able to tell the tale.


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