DS Techeetah driver Antonio Felix da Costa dominated the opening Berlin E-Prix to claim his second victory in the 2019/2020 FIA ABB Formula E Championship.
Following the coronavirus-induced five-month hiatus, the fully-electric racing series returned to action by creating a bubble at Berlin’s Tempelhof circuit. The season will conclude at Germany’s capital where drivers contest in six races within nine days to bring the series’ sixth season to an end.
After securing the pole position for the first E-Prix at the six-race Berlin finale, championship leader Antonio Felix da Costa took a convincing victory to increase his lead in the Drivers’ Standings.
The DS Techeetah drivers da Costa and Jean-Eric Vergne locked out the front row for the race, and maintained their position when the lights went out.
The first part of the E-Prix was rather uneventful before Robin Frijns found himself in trouble. After a coming-together in an attempted move on Max Guenther, the Dutchman’s Nissan Formula E car suffered heavy front-end damage caused on the exit of turn two. The incident enforced a period under the Safety Car.
When the attack modes came into play, a fantastic battle emerged between Andre Lotterer, Sam Bird and Nick de Vries for the third spot on the rostrum. The trio exchanged positions multiple times while battling for P3.
The race action was once again disrupted when Felipe Massa found himself in the wall. Using his attack mode, the Brazilian tried to overtake Mercedes driver Stoffel Vandoorne, but the combat saw the former Ferrari F1 driver lose the control over his car. The race director enforced a full-course yellow.
After the restart, da Costa was able to charge into the distance, but his team-mate Vergne failed to keep his early speed, spiralling down the order. The Frenchman eventually finished the race 20th.
In the meantime, Mercedes driver Stoffel Vandoorne was tearing through the pack. After starting from 16th, the Belgian climbed his way up to finish sixth in the sixth race of the season.
Audi endured a dismal qualifying session with Lucas di Grassi making a huge mistake in the final sector on his hot lap. The Brazilian started the race from the 21th position, but managed to clamber through to pack to ninth. His team-mate Rene Rast missed out on a point-scoring finish by ending his first race with Audi 11th.
After climbing out of his DS Techeetah FE car, da Costa said that his current lead in the Standings does not already guarantee the title win.
“Everyone’s assuming I have to win the title but I take that pressure well. It means it’s an important thing and yes, I want to win it, but there’s still a really long way to go.
“Hats off to the team. We’ve really put it all together and all the work heading here has come off. I moved here because I wanted a quicker car. Obviously, it’s fast and I’m so grateful. I wanted to put myself in a position to win races in my career and it’s happening.”
The Portuguese driver also paid tribute to his countryman Helder Moreira, who tragically lost his life this week in Berlin prior to the E-Prix.
Da Costa now leads in the Drivers’ Standing with 97 points to his name, a full 41 points clear of second-placed Mitch Evans. Maximilian Guenther is third with a further eight point behind the New-Zealander. In the Team’s Championship, DS Techeetah is atop with 128 points, followed by BMW i Andretti Motorsport (95) and Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E Team (76).
The action continues at Berlin tomorrow with the drivers completing the same schedule on the same track layout.