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Formula E - Da Costa handles the heat in the big apple for first win of season


Former champion returns to winning ways for the first time in over a year with a peerless performance in New York in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

For a driver who utterly dominated the 2019/20 campaign, the subsequent season-and-a-half have yielded relatively slim pickings for António Félix da Costa in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship – but the DS TECHEETAH ace produced a champion’s drive in New York today (17 July) to cement his seventh career triumph.

Promoted to pole position following a penalty for Saturday winner Nick Cassidy (Envision Racing), da Costa made a textbook getaway and – aside from a single-lap stint at the front of the field for Mercedes-EQ’s Stoffel Vandoorne during the Attack Mode activations – he would never be headed.

Over the opening half of the New York City E-Prix, eight candidates looked to be in the mix for victory as da Costa led fellow front row sitter Alexander Sims (Mahindra Racing), the fast-starting Vandoorne – who had leapt from fifth up to third at lights-out – defending champion Nyck de Vries in the second Mercedes-EQ entry, Dragon/Penske Autosport’s Sérgio Sette Câmara, Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing), Envision Racing’s Robin Frijns and Jake Dennis for Avalanche Andretti.

As the race wore on, the top five began to break away with da Costa holding away from Sims, Vandoorne, Evans and de Vries, the New Zealander exploiting an error by his Dutch rival 20 minutes in.

The next action came when Vandoorne outfoxed Sims for second, and with Evans momentarily held up, de Vries darted opportunistically to the inside at the hairpin, tagging the Mahindra half-sideways as he reclaimed fourth place from the Jaguar driver.

The pair crossed swords again shortly afterwards at Turn Six, with Evans squeezed by de Vries and hitting a bump that sent him squirreling almost into the barriers. The 28-year-old produced a miraculous save, but the delay left him three seconds behind the leading quartet, while de Vries’ efforts to relieve Sims of third were scuppered when he himself came unstuck on the same bump that had caught out Evans – with a similar outcome.

None of this was of any great concern to da Costa, who effortlessly handled both the intense heat in the North American metropolis and the pressure applied by his pursuers to secure his and DS TECHEETAH’s first win of the season. Vandoorne kept him honest to the end, with the runner-up spoils sufficient to propel the Belgian into an 11-point championship lead.

Evans – who benefitted from de Vries’ Turn Six ‘moment’ – then snatched third from Sims around the outside with less than five minutes remaining, with his gritty never-say-die performance yielding a sixth podium finish of the campaign that keeps him firmly in the title hunt.

Sims ultimately fell barely a tenth-of-a-second shy of the rostrum at the end of a dogged display, but fourth place nevertheless represented comfortably the Briton’s finest result of 2021/22 to-date. Just as impressive was countryman Sam Bird right behind in fifth, as the Jaguar TCS Racing ace – statistically, Formula E’s most successful driver around the Brooklyn Street Circuit heading into the weekend – fought his way up from 16th on the grid.

Bird was on the offensive throughout and survived contact with de Vries that enabled Frijns to leapfrog his compatriot into sixth. The reigning title-holder duly took the chequered flag where he had begun – seventh – ahead of Dennis and TAG Heuer Porsche’s André Lotterer, who dropped outside of the top ten at the start from his second row berth and thereafter had to battle back into contention.

Edoardo Mortara – championship leader going into today’s race – ultimately converted 21st on the grid following a brake-by-wire problem in qualifying into the last points-paying position in tenth, posting fastest lap along the way. The Swiss star was the beneficiary of a late clash that left ROKiT Venturi Racing team-mate Lucas Di Grassi and Avalanche Andretti rookie Oliver Askew in the Turn Six wall, and Jean-Éric Vergne (DS TECHEETAH) pit-bound.

For the Frenchman, a second consecutive failure to score has put a dent in his hopes of clinching a third career crown, but with four races still to run – two in London on 30/31 July followed by the double-header season finale in Seoul on 13/14 August – and Formula E’s famous unpredictability, nothing can be discounted.

“I love it! This is a little bit like our Monaco, it is such an incredible city and to win here - I finished second and third here in the past - but to win this one today is amazing, especially given where we were coming from after such a tough start to the season. I love this, I love the struggle and to keep proving everyone wrong, working with my guys and keep on improving and finding ourselves better, and here we are standing as a winner this season again, amazing. Thank you so much to the team, FANBOOST, everybody.
"The guys behind were keeping me honest the whole way. I didn't have a lot of information how we were doing on energy, so I was just trying to stick to my targets and I was mentally ready to fight, if I have to lose a position I would, but I really wanted this win and I could see with like ten laps to go what Stoff had and that I could keep him behind if I made no mistakes. The track was picking the grip a lot, cars starting to oversteer, very hard not to make mistakes, but I am so happy with this.
"(It is our) first win of the season. We have worked so hard man, these guys called me out to Paris and I spent weeks in the sim. It's boring! But I need to thank them as well. I know I am the one lifting the trophy now but I couldn't do it without the 18 guys behind me, back in Paris as well. I am so happy and to do it with all the fans is amazing. The end lap was really amazing.”

“It is a great result today, and overall the weekend was a great result. P4 yesterday, P2 today, and especially after what happened yesterday with the big crash, the team had to change a complete new chassis and rebuild a new car overnight. They gave me a good one again today, so thanks to them. This result is definitely for them. It has been a good weekend for us in New York.
"I have always had consistency, obviously last season with the former qualifying format it was difficult to show, but I think this year it is possible to excel a little more. So far we have been on a very good run, but we can't back it down because competition is super strong - Antonio's first victory today - Mitch was super strong again in the race, he was hunting us down. It comes down to small details, we need to keep on top of it.”

“When you're in the title fight you have got to get stuck in when your back is against the wall. There was the time I got the pothole and the car went, and I thought 'that's it we are over'. Before that I thought it was a pretty cheap move from Nyck to try and overtake me, obviously he is trying to help his teammate but it was one of those moves where I had to get out of the way or we make contact, and he obviously hits Alexander as well. Anyway it is the way it is, it is all strategy and tactics at the end of the day, but its not really my taste but even after that I am pretty sure the car was damaged after the big moment, and I thought I was out to be honest. The pace was good today, and without Nyck sticking up the inside of me I thought we would have won today.
"It is all part of the game, when you play your next move, sometimes it comes continuously but sometimes you need to wind it up for a few laps. Alexander was quick today in qualy, he got me in the Duels, and fairplay to them they were strong in the race and held their own. We had a really good pace today, unfortunately the win slipped away from us, but the pace was strong and that is encouraging.”