Berlin E-Prix, Race 4: Da Costa claims title as Vergne wins to seal DS Techeetah double
"I’m very grateful to these guys who believed in me"
António Félix da Costa has been crowned the 2019/20 ABB FIA Formula E Champion after finishing second behind DS Techeetah team-mate Jean-Éric Vergne in round nine at Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport today (9 August). The Portuguese driver claimed his maiden all-electric title with two races to spare, while Vergne converted pole position into his first victory of the campaign. The one-two also wrapped up the Teams’ Championship for DS Techeetah, while Sébastian Buemi completed the podium, taking third for Nissan e.dams.
Racing on the regular configuration of the Tempelhof circuit, reigning champion Vergne started the race from pole position after pipping da Costa by just over one tenth-of-a-second in the Super Pole shoot-out. And the two DS Techeetahs enjoyed excellent starts when the lights went green, holding station through Turn One ahead of Oliver Rowland and Buemi.
However, the race was immediately neutralised when the safety car was deployed after Maximilian Günther and Oliver Turvey came together at Turn Four. Vergne controlled the re-start perfectly and once again led away from Da Costa, although a light sprinkling of rain began to create difficult conditions.
Nissan ace Rowland was the earliest of the leaders to take ’ATTACK MODE’ and was rewarded by jumping up to second ahead of Da Costa when the champion-elect similarly activated his additional power boost. But the DS Techeetah duo were not separated for long with da Costa getting back past Rowland into Turn One, using his ’ATTACK MODE’ after the Brit’s had expired.
And it was then all change at the front, as Vergne ceded the lead to Da Costa in order to conserve energy. The pair swapped back again in the closing stages and ran line-astern to the finish, although Da Costa was forced to defend against a late charge from a fired-up Buemi. The Swiss driver had been bottled up behind team-mate Rowland for much of the race and was also caught out by the Mercedes-Benz EQ of Nyck de Vries after taking his second ’ATTACK MODE’.
However, Buemi swiftly re-passed the Dutchman before swapping places with Rowland and attempting to hunt down the DS Techeetah pair. De Vries vaulted himself back up to fourth spot by overtaking Rowland on the final lap, while the Audi Sport Abt Schaeffler car of Lucas Di Grassi came home sixth. The Brazilian had started down in 12th but made a number of eye-catching passes, taking full advantage of ’FAN BOOST’ along the way.
Despite losing out to Di Grassi, Mitch Evans enjoyed a strong race as the New Zealander piloted his Panasonic Jaguar through from 11th on the grid to seventh at the chequered flag. André Lotterer completed a trio of regular Formula E front-runners fighting their way up from lowly grid positions, bagging eighth for TAG Heuer Porsche after starting only 18th.
Alex Lynn finished ninth for Mahindra Racing, fading in the closing stages after mixing it in the top six during the early running. Felipe Massa rounded out the top ten for ROKiT Venturi Racing, although the Brazilian was left ruing what might have been after producing an excellent lap to reach the Super Pole session.
The teams and drivers will be back in action next week for the final two rounds of the 2019/20 season. Taking place on Wednesday (12 August) and Thursday (13 August), the finale of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship will be held on a reconfiguration of the Tempelhof track. From Turn Four, the new circuit features a more technical middle sector with a series of tight-and-twisty turns leading to the usual hairpin and long left-hander that runs to the flag.
Jean-Eric Vergne (DS Techeetah)
"As a team we couldn’t dream of a better day. We won the teams’ championship, Antonio won the drivers’ title and I jumped to second in the standings. With two more races to go, I’ll keep my head down and race for the runner-up spot. It’s a fantastic day and I’m extremely proud to be a part of this team. I know the feeling that hits you on the last lap just before crossing the chequered flag and you’re about to win your first championship. It’s probably the best moment in the life of a racing driver and Antonio should enjoy every second of it."
Antonio Felix Da Costa (DS Techeetah)
"I’m speechless. Sometimes I’ve been so close to giving up during the tough times, and thanks to the people around me I never did. I’m very grateful to these guys who believed in me and my capabilities, even when I was finishing nowhere near the podium. Massive thanks to JEV, I know this is hard for him, but he pushed me all the way and helped me out a lot and it’s mainly thanks to him I settled so quickly in the team. Today we had a plan and we executed it perfectly. JEV and myself helped each other out, but it was very intense at the end since both Seb and Oli were always there. Everyone was very fair today and raced as the champions they are!"
Sebastien Buemi (Nissan e.dams)
"I tried to save as much energy as I could, and I felt the call to overtake Oli was a bit late to be honest. By the time I managed to do so, it was the end of the race. I’m a bit disappointed because I feel like I could’ve had the opportunity to finish second, if I had used the energy properly. I’m sad for Oli as he deserved better today. We scored some good points for the team and congratulations to Antonio, he has done an amazing job and I’m happy for him. But there’s still work to do. It’s my second podium here in Berlin and I’m looking forward to the final double-header."
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