Jake Dennis (GBR) is set to make his debut in Season 7 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship with BMW i Andretti Motorsport. He and Maximilian Günther (GER) are currently attending the official Formula E tests at Valencia (ESP) with the BMW iFE.21. In recent years, Dennis has shown his versatility in the DTM, GT and Formula racing, and as a simulator and development driver for the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Formula 1 Team. In an interview, he discusses his expectations ahead of his first Formula E season, the advantages of his racing simulator experience, and his general viewpoint on the subject of electromobility.
Welcome to BMW i Andretti Motorsport, Jake! How and when were you approached by the team?
Jake Dennis: “It all started just through having one connection to BMW i Andretti Motorsport, which allowed me to do a simulator test, just to see how the performance was. That test went well. That then progressed on to a test session on the real racetrack, which went also really well and we had a bit more of an understanding after that, that we have kind of a chance to get a seat. When things aligned, what the team needed and what I wanted, we’ve put together the contract.”
You are currently doing test laps at Valencia in the BMW iFE.21. How does it feel to be part of Formula E?
Dennis: “It feels great! I wanted to progress over the past couple of years into Formula E as the series has really taken off in the past years. Gaining the FIA World Championship status now is obviously massive. It’s nice to call myself a Formula E driver and to finally put some laps in the car with BMW is a real pleasure. Can’t wait for the first races in Santiago.”
What are you looking forward to most?
Dennis: “To race in the locations we drive at. Getting to race in Santiago de Chile, in New York, in Rome and in all the other great cities is just sensational. The tracks are cool as they are all street circuits but at the same time this will also be the biggest challenge for me. Not knowing the circuits is definitely a challenge being a rookie. I think you can learn the car to a certain level pretty quickly but learning the tracks against drivers, who have even up to seven years experience will be tough. I think it’s an advantage to have driven there before, but at one point obviously everybody has to be a rookie, so this year it’s my go.”
Will Maximilian Günther be more of a partner or more of an opponent?
Dennis: “Maximilian and I are both competitive guys and there is no question that we want to beat each other, but I think at the level we are racing at now, you have to be sensible and you have to work together to make the programme work. We both want the best for the team and we both want the fastest car underneath at the end of the day. That means working together and developing the programme as quickly as possible is the aim and that’s for sure what we do. It makes no sense to be rivals, that is more when you are 16 or 17 years old and your aim is Formula 1 and you think everybody is your enemy, but now obviously we are older and more matured and you see the bigger picture.”
What’s you first impression of the BMW i Andretti Motorsport Team?
Dennis: “I like the team a lot. The combination of BMW and Andretti is very strong. The team is highly professional and it has a good mix of nationalities, which is a great benefit as you get different views and different opinions.”
How does your wealth of experience in simulator driving help in Formula E?
Dennis: “My experience in simulator driving helped me most likely to get the Formula E seat I’d say, because if I had been slow in the simulator during the evaluation I think I would not be sitting here today for sure. But in terms of driving the actual car it doesn’t make a big difference. Some drivers are really fast on simulators and some drivers are rather slow, but on track they are just as fast as you. I think in reality it doesn’t really help me to deliver any more performance on track but it helps just having more experience on simulators to help to develop the BMW simulator at the factory.”
Do you have much experience on street circuits?
Dennis: “I don’t really have a lot experience on street circuits genuinely. I did the ones at Macau and Pau and places like Norisring, but it’s nothing like Formula E. You just try to build up as much knowledge as you can but Formula E is so unique with the tracks they’ve developed, that you probably never really build up enough knowledge before you go into Formula E. I like it that the circuits are so tight and twisty and for the fans it’s great to see the cars so close. All the street races I’ve done so far I really enjoyed so I think there’s no reason to not enjoy the ones where you race in Formula E.”
Are you an early bird in normal life? Because you’ll have to be on Formula E race days…
Dennis: “I’m kind of getting used to the early starts of the day, due to the early starts in Munich during the simulator days. I’m quite good at waking up early, I think I don’t need a lot of sleep in general. But if it’s a possibility, I’m happy to sleep a bit longer than on race days in Formula E.”
What’s your general opinion on e-mobility?
Dennis: “My general opinion about e-mobility is that it will only become bigger and bigger. I still love a big engine and super-fast, loud cars but I am realistic and I know how big the electric world is going to be and I’m super excited to be now part of the programme and to get more of an understanding the way the world and the way the project is going. Just from season one until now – the amount of technology and development which has happened in Formula E is sensational.”