Dominant Da Costa completes reverse circuit double in Berlin to take grip on FE championship

Antonio Felix da Costa backed up his excellent victory at the Berlin Tempelhof circuit on Wednesday by winning again on Thursday to open up a huge gap at the top of the championship standings.

The DS TECHEETAH driver, who led from pole to flag in the opening race, repeated the feat to win in an even more dominant fashion from Nissan’s Sebastien Buemi and Audi’s Lucas di Grassi and extend his gap at the top of the drivers’ standings to a huge 68 points.

“This one was hard, man. We had to manage the temperatures of the battery so an extra thing to look out but I had the guys helping me out in my ear, so that was amazing, super happy,” said Da Costa after taking the chequered flag.

“Seb, he kept me honest the whole race,” added the Portuguese after stepping from the car. “Yesterday we were a little quicker, but I kept having to stop looking in my mirrors for a moment and keep him inder control. The first Attack Mode was a bit tight, but I knew I had the gap on the exit and he left me the space. Then we had to look after the energy, the battery temperature a little bit and the team was helping me out with the right info and I managed to do it but these momentums and these days are rare, so I know how hard they are to get and I’m glad they’re coming to me right now.”

As always, the crucial first phase of the race was going to depend upon the opening of Attack Mode, Sebastien Buemi the first to chance his arm, running wide to engage his extra 35 kW of power in an attempt to close down the race leader.

But two successive full course yellows for debris on the circuit meant that the field bunched up yet again, forcing a flurry of drivers to utilise the first of their compulsory Attack Mode activations, the big gainers being Di Grassi, who moved into podium contention.

The big loser was the Mercedes of Nyck De Vries, the Dutchman grinding to a halt on lap 16 and bringing out yet another full course yellow. It meant that those under Attack Mode suffered the most, the clock still ticking and a 2kW energy reduction under the flag.

Upon race resumption, it was still plain sailing for race leader Da Costa, maintaining his lead from Buemi, Di Grassi and Robin Frijns, with 20 minutes still remaining. But there was still one crucial stage of the race remaining and an Attack Mode activation remaining for the majority of runners, Stoffel Vandoorne sweeping past Sam Bird and Oliver Rowland on the outside with a brilliant move as defending champion Jean-Eric Vergne also gained a place.

The brilliant tactical nature of Formula E means that sometimes you need to take a risk in order to make a place, and Buemi was forced to concede second place to Di Grassi in running wide for his final Attack Mode, only for the extra power to see him regain the position moments later.

And that is how the top three finished, Frijns holding off a charging Vandoorne at the chequered flag in another frantic finish. Sam Bird was an impressive sixth from Oliver Rowland, Edoardo Mortara and Andre Lotterer, as Vergne grabbed the final point.

“For me it feels like a race of what could have been but in the end, scoring four points is not the end of the world,” commented Venturi’s Mortara. “I was hoping for more but it is what it is. I’m looking forward to racing again at the weekend where I’m sure we can do more.”

The races now come thick and fast, but Da Costa is by no means counting his chickens, as the Berlin Tempelhof Circuit resorts to its traditional configuration for the next two races over the weekend.

“We are going to have another four races in the next five days or so, so day by day, everyone is going to get closer and closer, we’ve seen that today, but I’m expecting it to be tough, the next few ones.”

Antonio Félix da Costa (PRT), DS Techeetah, 1st position

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.