Superb Da Costa wins dramatic Monaco ePrix with final lap lunge on Evans

Defending champion Antonio Felix da Costa moved into title contention once again by winning a dramatic Monaco ePrix from Robin Frijns and Mitch Evans as the lead switched places on the final lap.

Run on the full circuit for the first time, the third iteration of the Monaco ePrix produced one of the most exciting events in the short history of the world’s premier electric racing series – several drivers in contention before pole sitter Da Costa pulled out a brave overtake to pass Evans as the Australian was also overtaken by Frijns.

It was tough on the Jaguar Racing driver, who deservedly led the race after a stunning double overtake on Frijns and Da Costa only minutes from the finish. But all of the top three can be justifiably proud of providing entertainment aplenty, 2019 Monaco winner Jean Eric Vergne finishing fourth ahead of Maximilian Guenther, Oliver Rowland and Sam Bird.

“It feels pretty good,” said Da Costa afterward. “I knew the race was going to be pretty hard with the energy management and we played a perfect strategy with the team telling me all the information I needed to know at the right time, all the Attack Modes and everything was really well planned, and oh my god… How many lead changes we had in a Monaco ePrix? That doesn’t happen in any other racing series, you know.”

By Monaco standards, it was a remarkably clean getaway before contact between Alex Sims and Jake Dennis at the Grand Hotel Hairpin brought about a yellow flag. Da Costa’s advantage was short lived, Frijns getting past the Portuguese for the lead into Turn 1 with Evans and Vergne in close attendance behind.

Antonio Felix da Costa (PRT), DS Techeetah, DS E-Tense FE21, leads Mitch Evans (NZL), Jaguar Racing, Jaguar I-TYPE 5, and Robin Frijns (NLD), Envision Virgin Racing, Audi e-tron FE07

As Always, and especially around the tight confines of Monaco, Attack Mode would be crucial, Da Costa the first of the big hitters to activate, but in doing so getting caught up in the squabble with teammate Vergne and Evans.

Race leader Frijns ran wide to activate a lap later, allowing Da Costa through as the strategic undercut came into play. And it was Frijns who grabbed the initiative, passing again on the start/finish straight.

In Formula One and many of the junior formulas, overtaking on track is almost an impossibility. But in Formula E, with drivers having to run offline in order to gain an extra 35kW of power, it makes for entertainment and passing opportunities aplenty.

With drivers having to activate a mandatory second Attack Mode, there would be further changes aplenty as the race moved into its critical final stage, Da Costa having to defend from Evans as Vergne held second from Frijns.

And with Evans running wide and Vergne’s Attack Mode failing to activate, Da Costa found himself back in second place and again challenging Frijns for the lead. It looked a little harsh and cost the Frenchman a further place to Guenther as his DS TECHEETAH teammate and reigning champion piled on the pressure to Frijns ahead of him.

With all mandatory Attack Modes activated, it led to a frantic finish to the chequered flag. Da Costa swept past Evans on the exit to the tunnel to retake the lead, but Evans also made the move stick on Frijns before diving past Da Costa at Beau Rivage for a quite stunning double overtake.

It looked like a move that may set up the Aussie for victory but when Rene Rast stopped on the climb towards Casino Square, it brought about a Safety Car and another twist to the tail with ten minutes remaining. A collision between Guenther and Rowland brought about more waved yellows and a dramatic finish.

And with energy dwindling to zero, it was the magnificent Da Costa who took the gamble to sweep past Evans and make up for the disappointment of running out of energy on the penultimate corner in Valencia.

“It was definitely one of the riskiest,” explained Da Costa. “I thought I wasn’t going to make the corner, but Mitch was super fair and Robin as well, super hard but super fair. I love racing these guys when it’s like this.”

Antonio Felix da Costa (PRT), DS Techeetah, DS E-Tense FE21, celebrates with a Portuguese flag

Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.