Formula E: Antonio Felix Da Costa pushes his title aspirations as the ‘stars align’ for Porsche win
Antonio Felix Da Costa celebrated his first win of the new Formula E season at the weekend and attributed his breathless overtakes in Cape Town to being fully “in the zone” at a crucial time.
The Porsche driver made two incredible passes to seal the lead in the closing stages of the race, edging out Jean-Eric Vergne to take top spot on the podium and move up to fourth in the overall driver standings.
A chaotic period of the season now gives way to a break of a month before FE heads to Brazil and Sao Paulo, with Da Costa - or simply DAC, as he’s known around the track - glad of the respite as he bids to overcome illness and be fresh for round six.
Indeed, an earlier arrival in South Africa brought sense of calmness which contributed to Da Costa’s state of mind, which he feels was necessary after a tough start to life at his new team.
“I got to Cape Town on Monday afternoon and felt a few vibes like back home in Portugal, next to the ocean. That buildup was super good for me after non-stop travel,” he told The Independent on a media call. “Maybe it played a part in the good weekend. The questions were getting a bit annoying and started to take a toll: ‘Why is [teammate] Pascal [Wehrlein] winning, why aren’t you?’ It made it more emotional.
“I was in the zone, with the adrenaline, it led me to do those things [on the overtakes]. It was only in the last day I’ve watched it back. At the time it felt natural but watching back now, maybe I should have been a bit more careful!
“It was really close to the wall. but I’m a big believer that when the stars align, when it’s meant to be it’s meant to be. I’m not a big crasher but that was quite close. I made the move with less energy [in the car] and paid the price on the last lap, I had to manage that energy.”
Manage it he did, holding off Hyderabad winner JEV to make it all five races now in which Porsche have had a driver on the podium.
While Saudi Arabia’s double-header was a tough weekend for DAC, he has otherwise impressed in the first months with his new team.
That’s especially considering it’s not just a new environment, but plenty of other unfamiliar challenges tied in too, including the Gen3 car and a succession of brand-new tracks.
And, as he told The Independent, the list of obstacles to overcome are never-ending; just as he gets to grip with one matter, another rears its head when it comes to scoping out and preparing new locations to race in.
“It makes it harder for someone to join a new team like myself; when you get on top of something I’m struggling with, something else arrives, whether it’s changing driving style or something else.
“It’s a constant challenge, there’s a to-do list on the engineering side, on the software side, you fix something and it’s the next race and then it starts again.
“Then you learn the new tracks, you need good foundations in the simulator and that doesn’t always give you enough time. But it is what it is and I don’t give excuses. I’m glad I could do my talking on the track.
“I’m still not where I want to be but there are some good indications we are going in the right direction.”
Having accumulated 40 points from his past two races in new cities, the current direction is very much upwards. If he can repeat the trick next time out in another new location, in late March in Brazil, Porsche will be getting extremely confident about their chances of fighting for a one-two in the championship this season.