Jake Dennis claimed a potentially title-deciding victory in the 14th round of the 2022/23 Formula E season, as championship rivals Nick Cassidy and Mitch Evans collided on the second lap.

Sunday’s Rome E-Prix has seen Dennis get one hand on the Formula E crown, as the Andretti driver now boasts a huge 24-point lead over Cassidy, who finished 14th. Cassidy tumbled down the order after being crashed into by Evans, who retired from the race. Nissan’s Norman Nato and Jaguar’s Sam Bird completed the podium in the Italian capital.

As all 22 drivers made their way round to their grid slots, the air temperature was a sizzling 36°C, whilst the track surface was a ridiculous 60°C. Nissan did an excellent job to get Sacha Fenestraz’s car ready for the race, after he missed free practice 3 and qualifying due to a battery-related issue.

It wasn’t just the weather which was hot, as the top two in the Drivers’ Championship occupied the front row. Dennis started on pole ahead of Cassidy, with the latter having boasted a two-point lead in the standings at the time. Nato lined-up in third ahead of title contender and yesterday’s race winner Evans. Fourth in the standings Pascal Wehrlein started 15th.

As the lights went out, it was Dennis who made the perfect start from pole, whilst behind Cassidy was overtaken by Nato. Evans remained in fourth on the opening lap, ahead of team-mate Bird in fifth, whilst Wehrlein made no ground as the field started the second lap.

Cassidy was keen to reclaim second and did so on the way into Turn 3, something which forced Nato wide. This allowed Evans to capitalise on the approach to Turn 4, something he superbly did. It meant the top three on the track were the top three in the Drivers’ Championship, setting up an exciting race.

That was until a huge moment at Turn 7 on the second lap, as Evans launched over the top of Cassidy after locking-up his rear tyres. Dennis somehow avoided being caught up in the incident and remained in the lead, whilst Evans and Cassidy tumbled to the back of the field. Due to debris across the Circuito Cittadino dell’EUR, a Safety Car was required.

Cassidy was at least able to catch the back of the field, whilst Evans limped back to the pits for a new front wing. The ‘King of Rome’ tried to rejoin the race, but returned to the pits to retire on Lap 6. It marked a heartbreaking moment for Evans and potentially the end of his title chances.

Following the carnage, Cassidy found himself towards the back of the pack but at least able to continue. He quickly made a series of overtakes, with the Kiwi having been on a mission. Cassidy sat nine seconds behind Dennis on the eighth lap, albeit in 13th.

The race leader and Nato – who was now in second following Evans’ and Cassidy’s incident – both activated their first Attack Mode towards the end of Lap 8, with Dennis having maintained the race lead. Nato, though, fell to third behind Bird. Behind the leading trio, Sébastian Buemi sat in fourth, ahead of Dan Ticktum, after a great move on the ninth lap.

Whilst Dennis was defending the race lead, Cassidy was making exceptional progress. The Envision driver had worked his way into 11th by Lap 11, with the leaders having been in his sights. Lap 13 and Bird activated his first Attack Mode and dropped to fourth as a result, behind Nato and Buemi. At the back, both Mahindra drivers retired from the race.

Bird, crucially, took too long to overtake Buemi for third, as it allowed Nato to activate his second Attack Mode and remain in second. Dennis too activated his final Attack Mode. Things were going beautifully for the Andretti driver, as Cassidy actually dropped a few places whilst taking his Attack Modes, demoting him to 15th. Unlike Cassidy, Wehrlein was making good progress, with the Porsche driver having been in seventh on Lap 17.

Right at the back and Robin Frijns became the race’s fourth retirement, whilst it also marked the third Mahindra-powered car to retire. At the front, and Bird was putting Nato under enormous pressure, with the Jaguar driver having boasted the most energy amongst the leading trio. Nato was struggling the most out of the front three and was doing an excellent job at defending from Bird, allowing Dennis to escape two seconds up the road.

As Dennis started the final lap, he led from a squabbling Nato and Bird, with Edoardo Mortara and Buemi in fourth and fifth. Cassidy, meanwhile, was stuck in 13th, whilst Wehrlein was in seventh. The Andretti driver comfortably crossed the line to win in the Eternal City, ahead of Nato and Bird, who kept it clean on the last lap.

Mortara remained in fourth with Buemi in fifth, whilst Maximilian Günther, Wehrlein, Stoffel Vandoorne, Ticktum and Nico Müller completed the top 10. Cassidy ended up crossing the line in 14th, after colliding with André Lotterer, sending the German into the wall. Dennis also claimed the fastest lap, something which saw him awarded with an additional point.

The result has had an enormous impact on the Drivers’ Championship, which Dennis now leads once again. He sits 24 points ahead of Cassidy ahead of the season finale double-header in London, meaning the title could be sealed at the first race in the British capital. Evans remains in third but his title chances are effectively over, with the Kiwi having slipped to 44 points behind Dennis. The same can be said for Wehrlein, in fourth, who is 49 points behind.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Envision lead Porsche by just 14 points, whilst Jaguar sit 25 points behind their customer team in third.

Formula E returns on the 29 July for the conclusion of Season Nine in London, where the title will be decided.

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