António Félix da Costa dominates Valencia but victory eludes in unprecedented E-Prix
It was a frustrating Saturday afternoon in Valencia as DS TEECHETAH saw what would have been the second win in two events, vanish in the final lap.
In its second outing of the season, the new DS E-TENSE FE21 proved competitive with Da Costa in the top four in all sessions. Vergne qualified 13th, Da Costa went into to the Super Pole group and qualified 2nd. Both gained one grid position after the provisional polesitter’s time was cancelled due to an infringement which saw Da Costa start the race on pole.
The rain came down just ahead the start of the race, which like in Rome, got started behind the safety-car. Starting from the pole position spot, Da Costa mastered everything from rivals to the wet track and the five safety-car sessions and full course yellow periods that kept wiping out the advantage he had built. But it wasn’t to be, the final safety-car trigged another energy reduction which meant that Da Costa found himself with too little energy to finish the race and had to back off the pace to be able to cross the line in seventh. A post-race disqualification for overuse of power finished Da Costa’s day on the opposite end of where it had started. Vergne emerged unscathed from an eventful race to take P9.
The Valencia E-Prix continues tomorrow at 14:00 CEST at the 3.376km long circuit Ricardo Tormo.
Jean-Éric Vergne, P9:
"What a turn of events today. It didn't start in the ideal way, but we continued to try and figure it out throughout the day and although it was an incident filled race, I managed to keep my race clean and finished in P9 in the end. I'm looking forward to racing again tomorrow and the aim is to finish with some good points.”
António Félix da Costa, Disqualified:
“As a motorsport fan, this is not the end you want to see, regardless of the winner. And for me personally, this was a big kick in the guts. It was a perfect day today, in the dry, in the wet, we managed everything really well, until the last lap. So yeah, this one hurts. But tomorrow is a new day, and we have another opportunity for points so that is what we focus on now.”
Mark Preston, DS TECHEETAH Team Principal:
“Well, that didn’t quite turn out the way we had planned it or thought it would end for that matter. Antonio held a comfortable lead from pole position and did a stellar race, but we got caught out by the extreme energy reduction imposed after the last safety car period and had to back off to be able to finish the race. We still came away with three points from Antonio’s pole position and JEV’s P9 result, and as we all know, every point counts in this championship, but it is of course disappointing when we were so close to securing lots more points today.”
Thomas Chevaucher, DS Performance Director:
“It is, of course, a great disappointment for us, as our cars were very competitive. António has been very fast in qualifying and quite effective throughout the race. The outcome does not reflect at all our race, it is the consequence of a misunderstanding between the race director and the team’s strategists. The race direction can decide to reduce the energy after a safety-car, but has no obligation to do so. They were expecting us to “lose time” voluntarily before crossing the finish line, while we were not expecting such an unsuitable reduction. This misunderstanding has led to a very unfortunate situation. There was nothing technical, it was purely a regulation issue, unfortunately. This situation is also a consequence of using an unusual track for FE and confirms that urban tracks are part of the DNA of Formula E. Now, let’s focus on tomorrow’s race.”