After a stellar record-breaking first season, Jake Dennis gets set for his sophomore campaign in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship. The Brit checked in after the launch of the new-look Avalanche Andretti team as he looks ahead to Season 8, ready to cast aside that 'rookie' label as he focuses on a run for the World Championship crown.
Jake Dennis didn't seem like your typical rookie. The Brit arrived in the Formula E paddock with a cool air of confidence, and while some may have doubted Andretti's choice, the Brit soon repaid that faith in him.
All you have to do is take a look at some of the items on Dennis' checklist: two wins, a pole position, most victories in a debut season, and joint with Felix Rosenqvist for the best-ever championship finish in a rookie season.
This performance put Dennis right in line for Formula E's first-ever FIA World Championship crown heading into the final race in Berlin. "I’d be lying if I said I was going to potentially win the championship going into the last race. I didn’t expect that," says Dennis.
"I can’t say that I had so much confidence in myself that I thought I could just come in and almost win the championship in my first year. However, I definitely came in with an attitude that I can perform well in single-seaters – I knew I could do well in these cars."
As we all know, though, his title hopes would grind to a halt with a broken inverter and a long, heart-breaking walk back to the pits. He still ended the year third overall, but the Brit is now eager to move on from this episode and is ready to lead the revamped and recently unveiled Avalanche Andretti squad into Season 8.
Published on 5th November 2021
From that showing last season, Dennis is fully aware of the heightened expectations surrounding him ahead of Season 8. Just talking about what is to come, that infectious, distinctly humble but confident attitude that carried the 26-year-old to such an impressive debut campaign comes through.
"It was obviously a great season. We broke records with the two wins, the pole position and with the most laps led last season as well. Overall, it was pretty cool to make a statement that I'm here.
"Now that I’m not a rookie, I’m coming into this season ready to try and win this thing," says Dennis with a smile and without any hint of arrogance - just that assured belief in himself that is inherent in all drivers.
But for all the 'rookie this' and 'rookie that' from last season, Dennis admits that he is now relieved to be free of that label: "It was a great feeling to achieve what we did as a rookie, but I'm looking forward to not being called a rookie next season. When you perform well, there's always this emphasis that you just won a race as a rookie."
"I knew it was impressive but by the end of the year, the rookie thing became quite tiring. So now I’m looking forward to just not being a rookie. I’ve checked that box and picked up the Rookie of the Year but now someone else can have that honour," says Dennis, laughing.
With BMW departing Formula E and ending their partnership with Andretti, a new look for the all-American outfit awaits Dennis. Revealed last week, the Gen2 car will now be cloaked in red, thanks in part to their new title sponsor, Avalanche.
However, despite admitting a personal fashion preference towards the monochrome, Dennis is eager to bring a red blur to the city streets when he gets behind the wheel of the Avalanche Andretti machine.
"I saw the new car one week before it was announced and saw the racing red. I think it looks great and I’m looking forward to seeing it out on track. The main thing is that it is fast and we can get on it."
It's more than just a new colour scheme at Andretti, as Dennis explains: "With BMW leaving at the end of the season, it was very much a case of a revamp inside of Andretti. There were a lot of important people who left, but I think we’ve managed to do the best job in terms of replacing people. Then you’ve got the process of trying to get everyone up to speed, firstly with just a Formula E car and then with the software side.
"We’ve been busy in the factory, myself included, just trying to get everyone to see from the driver’s point of view for what works and what doesn’t. We’ve been to Munich a couple of times, just making sure everyone is comfortable with the software side of things and the car is running."
With former teammate Maximilian Guenther also departing for new pastures at Nissan e.dams, Dennis finds himself stepping into a leading role at Andretti and being a mentor for his inbound team-mate with the second seat still yet to be confirmed.
A team-player, Dennis is thinking of the bigger picture when working with his incoming team-mate: "There are some names floating about for who it’s going to be, but I’m just looking forward to getting them into the team and just teaching them everything just like what Max [Guenther] taught me, all the basics and then we can go from there with working together and getting the relationship evolving.
"When they perform well, it's better for me. It would never happen, but the last thing I want is to whitewash my teammate and have him towards the back. I need him fighting with me at the front because it’s better for the team and better for developing the car."
For all the changes, the confidence is still there for Dennis: "I think I’ve got a good team around me, we’re all getting up to speed very quickly and it shouldn’t be an issue at all.
"I don’t want to use the new team as an excuse, I think if we can do a good job we can come in and be fast straight away. We’ve got testing to get our head around it, and I’m sure by the time we come round to Diriyah, we will all be fluid and like a well-oiled machine."