E-Prix: Porsche driver da Costa wins in Cape Town
António Félix da Costa has won the first E-Prix in Cape Town, his first win as a Porsche works driver for Formula E. He drove to victory in the season’s fifth race from eleventh on the grid, ahead of Jean-Éric Vergne (DS Penske) and Nick Cassidy (Envision Racing).
With da Costa’s win, Porsche’s Formula E team extended its lead in the team standings of the electric racing series. And that even though it initially did not look good for the sports car brand from Zuffenhausen. Championship leader Pascal Wehrlein, who started significantly further ahead than his teammate da Costa, retired shortly after the start after colliding with Sebastien Buemi.
The Cape Town race had already made headlines before the start. Not only was it the first E-Prix in South Africa, but only 17 of the 22 registered race cars were on the grid. During practices, Mahindra discovered that there was damage to the suspensions. So the Indian manufacturer withdrew its two factory cars and those of customer team Abt-Cupra.
It was an important moment in Formula E history: Mahindra factory driver Lucas di Grassi had been the only driver to take part in every E-Prix so far. And since Cape Town, no driver has taken part in all races. The fifth car not on the grid in Cape Town was Sam Bird’s Jaguar.
Energy consumption was an important factor on the track through Cape Town, which was quite fast by Formula E standards and had many full-throttle sections. Those who drove at the front had to use more energy than drivers who followed under the lee and thus did not consume as much energy. As a result, DS driver and India winner Jean-Eric Vergne and the Portuguese Porsche driver da Costa, who started in 11th place, established themselves at the front later in the race.
In the drivers’ standings, Porsche driver Pascal Wehrlein remains at the top with 80 points despite his early retirement, as his main rival Jake Dennis in the Andretti Porsche (62 points) failed to score any points in 13th place. However, their lead is melting away, with Vergne catching up with his second consecutive podium (50 points). Race winner da Costa is fourth with 46 points.
With both drivers in the top four of the drivers’ standings, Porsche leads the team standings with 126 points ahead of Jaguar customer team Envision (84 points) and its customer team Andretti (80 points).
The sixth race of the season takes place in Sao Paulo on 25 March before the double-header in Berlin at the end of April.