Formula E

ABT debacle at Formula E anniversary in Mexico: Penalty against Felix da Costa "is of little use to us"

Timo Pape

Timo Pape

The German ABT team would have imagined their 100th race in Formula E differently, as any hope of a good result for Lucas di Grassi and Nico Müller was already gone on lap 1. Whilst the Brazilian had a brake problem, Nico Müller was wiped out by Antonio Felix da Costa.

Müller had set a decent pace in free practice and qualifying and was clearly the fastest of the four Mahindra-powered drivers. The Swiss driver started the race from 12th on the grid, but was spun by Porsche driver Felix da Costa shortly after the start. The Portuguese driver attacked on the inside of a left-hand corner too late, resulting in contact.

Müller slid backwards into the TecPro barrier and dropped to the back of the field. With a damaged car, he ultimately finished in 17th place. Felix da Costa even had to park his Porsche 99X Electric with a damaged suspension after the collision and was also penalised: he will be moved back three places on the grid for the Diriyah E-Prix.

"The fact that the competition was penalised for this doesn't help us much," says Müller. "We were able to show our potential a few times in practice, but the race was over quickly after the collision. We'll tick that off. We'll take the positives with us and hope for more racing luck."

No apology from Felix da Costa

Although the question of guilt was clear - at least from the FIA's point of view - Porsche didn't really comment on the incident in its press release: "To retire so early in the first race of the season is not nice," Felix da Costa is quoted.

"It was a difficult day for me, but I'm looking ahead," was the Portuguese driver's terse comment. No trace of regret. Team principal Florian Modlinger doesn't even mention the collision: "He made up a few positions in the race before he had to retire due to suspension damage."

Brake problem for Lucas di Grassi: "Not our day today"

ABT returnee Lucas di Grassi also had to stop his car after just two laps with a brake defect. It was not possible to see exactly what had happened on TV, but di Grassi was already in the run-off zone of turn 12 on lap 1 (see photo above) and had to turn his car round.

"I had a problem with the brakes from the start of the race," explains the Brazilian. "We came into the pits and tried to fix it, but that didn't work and we had to retire. It wasn't our day today - but we won't let that get us down and will come back in Diriyah."

"Lucas' race came to an early end with a brake issue that we still need to investigate in detail," says team principal Thomas Biermaier. "Nico bravely fought his way to the finish the race after a collision through no fault of his own and without a rear wing, and at least collected important data."

Biermaier: "Would have wished for a different 100th race"

"For our 100th race and the season opener, we would obviously have wished for a different race. The good news is that we'll be back on the track in a fortnight' time," said Biermaier.

The ABT team, which is currently in talks with potential new manufacturers for the 2024 season, will have the chance to make a comeback on 26 and 27 January in Saudi Arabia.

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