Jake Dennis has already started to “come to terms” with the incident that denied him a chance of challenging for Formula E’s first world championship in Berlin.
Dennis’s third place in the standings is the highest finish by a championship rookie since Felix Rosenqvist took the same position in the 2016/17 season with Mahindra.
He was also the first ever rookie, other than drivers in the inaugural season in 2014/15, to claim two wins in a season.
But Dennis looked to be in a strong position to take the outright title challenge to eventual champion Nyck de Vries having started the final race just four points behind the Mercedes EQ driver but three spots ahead on the grid.
BMW i Andretti driver Dennis, who only drove a Formula E car for the first time 11 months ago, was in eighth position behind Sebastien Buemi’s Nissan as the race restarted with a safety car after a red flag was thrown for Mitch Evans and Edoardo Mortara’s startline incident.
As he braked for the first corner of racing in Buemi’s slipstream, Dennis lost control of the car and speared into the wall on the outside of the first turn.
Still can’t quite wrap our head around the first few laps of this race tbh#BerlinEPrix | #FormulaE
— The Race (@wearetherace) August 15, 2021
The team had yet to study data from the car immediately after the race, but a suspected technical glitch appeared to have caused the incident which team principal Roger Griffiths describe as “colossally unfortunate”.
“It’s a little early to say as obviously we don’t have any data,” Griffiths told The Race.
“He said he heard some weird noise in the back.
“We think that something in the powertrain drivetrain has failed and it’s locked the rear wheels and slid him into the barrier.”
Dennis suspected that it could have been associated with the red flag period and then restarting his car for the safety car restart, but Griffiths suggested that this was unlikely.
“Coming back in again, and then going back out, it’s no different to what you do every day when you’re practising,” said Griffiths.
“I don’t think we’ve had any reliability issues to the powertrain in three seasons, it’s been very, very strong.”
Gutting end to the championship battle for @JakeDennis19…
Live timing 👉 https://t.co/PfsIBGoxYB
🇩🇪 2021 @BMWi #BerlinEPrix | @Niobium_Nb | @BMWMotorsport pic.twitter.com/ANk1OT7mOM
— ABB FIA Formula E World Championship (@FIAFormulaE) August 15, 2021
Dennis confirmed that he had heard a “weird sound from the gearbox or the powertrain.”
“When I lifted into Turn 1 the rear tyres completely locked and I went into the wall,” he said.
The 26 year-old, who has signed a new deal to stay at Andretti for next season, said he “came to terms with the disappointment quickly” between the incident occurring and the end of the race.
“I’m just happy to be still sat here in third,” he said.
“We could have so easily lost many more positions today with the championship being so close.
“I think generally the best guy won the championship and he had a great season; we had our moments and ups and downs, and we’ve come a long way since Saudi.
“Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be sat here today after the first couple of rounds, so we can be really pleased with our job.”
BMW i Andretti finished sixth in the teams’ championship standings, one place below its place in the truncated 2019/20 campaign.
It will continue as an independent Andretti entry next season after BMW’s factory exit, but still using BMW machinery.
While Dennis is secure in one seat, Maximilian Guenther is up against American opponents – including former IndyCar driver Oliver Askew – for his drive in the second car.