Jake Dennis’ new multi-season Andretti deal says much more than just the reigning Formula E world champion being content and successful at one of the series' most improved teams.
Inking that deal, which was announced earlier this week and will likely take Dennis to the end of the Gen3 era of the electric series, will also shine a light on Andretti’s immediate future.
Its continued positioning as Porsche’s customer team was only assured recently and is still to be publicly communicated but Dennis’ signing all but confirms a calcified relationship between two of the biggest names in world motorsport.
In July Porsche announced it would stay around in Formula E until the end of the 2025-26 season, the last of the Gen3 period. But at precisely this stage of its relationship an air of antagonism was threatening to escalate into outright conflict.
Rome had seen some tricky attempted Porsche/Andretti orchestration, particularly between Andretti driver Andre Lotterer and works driver Antonio Felix da Costa. It didn’t end well, with the pair almost tripping over themselves and ultimately compromising each other’s races.
Prior to that Dennis and Porsche factory driver Pascal Wehrlein had been at loggerheads in Jakarta, where the thermostat was as warm in the respective garages as the sultry climate outside.
Dennis had felt Wehrlein over-protected his lead with a dodgy move and afterwards not only did he let the world know that but he doubled down with the infamous “we can't protest against them because they have a Porsche powertrain”.
That didn’t impress the Porsche bigwigs back in Stuttgart, and when in the final weekend of the season the Dennis and Wehrlein antipathy flared its collective nostrils again, Michael Andretti had it out with senior Porsche management face to face.
While that blew over quickly, there were also other matters that had to be addressed. This time in court.
That was relating to Porsche's quest to overturn what it perceived to be a flagrant injustice - Da Costa’s three-minute penalty at the first of the London E-Prix double-header races at the end of July.
Da Costa was in line for second place that day until a damaged tyre triggered the penalty for going under the minimum tyre pressure. It was a confused and complex picture that went all the way to the International Court for Sport in November.
A decision of inadmissibility was eventually reached. In Porsche’s eyes, the beginning of the affair had compromised what it felt was a decent crack at finishing ahead of third-placed Andretti in the teams’ standings.
A month earlier at the Valencia test, Andretti and Porsche reconnected with a meal together and also all four drivers – Wehrlein, Dennis, da Costa and Andretti new boy Norman Nato - got together to discuss a renewed way of working for 2024.
The storm had settled, new horizons were being explored.
Around this time it was also agreed, although still not officially announced, that Andretti would continue to use Porsche hardware until the end of the Gen3 period.
For Dennis this was the final sign, if he needed one at all, that he was best to stick rather than twist and so the deal was completed despite significant interest from rival teams. These are known to have included, at various stages, the NEOM McLaren and Jaguar TCS Racing squads.
Dennis is completely embedded in the Andretti squad with a close team of people he trusts implicitly. The improvement he has shown in his three seasons in Formula E is staggering. In particular his qualifying averages have picked up massively - from 11.2 in 2020-21 to 7.9 in 2021-22 and 6.3 in 2022-23.
The consistency in races was an obvious highlight last season, too. Despite a sticky patch from Hyderabad to the first Berlin race, Dennis’ mental fortitude was then showcased with an outrageous - for Formula E at least - streak of eight podiums in nine races to round out his title triumph.
The overarching point to Dennis’ new contract with Andretti is that he is content in Formula E, and that - despite an IndyCar test and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix free practice session last month - he wants to be in the all-electric series.
This is born out of a simple enjoyment of the challenge.
Dennis knows himself it’s one of the best grids in the world and he knows too that the satisfaction levels he experienced after London can be repeated again. He has a real chance of matching Jean-Eric Vergne’s so far unique achievement of becoming a back-to-back champion.
Additionally, Dennis will also enjoy a stronger team-mate in the shape of Nato than he did with a curiously downbeat Lotterer last season.
But more than that Dennis is a living manifestation of that rare, rare quality in professional racing drivers. He’s grateful.
A lot of them will tell you they are grateful for their hard-earned but ultimately slightly privileged positions. In Dennis' case - as three and a half years ago he was frankly on the bones of his arse professionally - the earnestness of that gratitude can't be doubted.
That doesn’t mean he’s soft, far from it. What it really means is that he has earned it and he’s hungry for more.
With this deal, Andretti’s continuity with Porsche and a pure dedication to winning, Jake Dennis will, quite rightly, be wearing his new crown with a little extra swagger in 2024.