Felix da Costa's emotions run high after 1st Formula E victory with Porsche: "Had to think of deceased engineer".
A few days after his Formula E race victory in Cape Town, Antonio Felix da Costa looks back on his first success with Porsche with 'e-Formel.de'. The Portuguese thanks his ex-teammate Jean-Eric Vergne for the mutual respect and explains why he had to think of a deceased engineer from DS after the race.
With one of the most spectacular overtaking maneuvers in Formula E history, Antonio Felix da Costa sealed his first race win for Porsche at the Cape Town E-Prix. The Portuguese had left his previous racing team, DS Automobiles, in the summer to make a renewed assault on the electric title with the team from Weissach.
The irony that he left behind his former DS team partner Jean-Eric Vergne, of all people, thanks to the bravery maneuver in South Africa did not go unnoticed by Felix da Costa himself. "It was incredibly close," the Portuguese recalled in a virtual media round of the decisive scene of the E-Prix. "On the left was the wall, on the right was him, and I was driving on a piece of asphalt that no car had seen all weekend. To make sure nothing happened there, the stars had to be right!"
"JEV knows me well, but not my car & team"
In the battle for position, the 31-year-old suspects his previous experience with the DS team also helped him. "I know what package they have and what settings they change at what times. JEV didn't have that advantage: he knows me well, but not my car and my team."
After crossing the finish line, emotions burst over Felix da Costa. Audibly moved, he still thanked his racing team on the team radio. In TV interviews, fans saw him with tears in his eyes - a rare sight for a racing driver who is usually always beaming with good humor. "That was very emotional," he says in response to a question from 'e-Formel.de'. "And not just because of the fact that I won against my old team, which gave me a championship."
"We also had an engineer on the team at the time, who unfortunately is no longer with us. I couldn't help but think of him watching from above as JEV and I battle it out once again." Felix da Costa is alluding to former DS Techeetah strategy chief Pascal Tortosa, who died suddenly in the fall of 2019. The Frenchman lived to be only 49 years old. "It must have been cool for him (Tortosa) to watch it from above."
Felix da Costa explains: that's why Cape Town victory was so emotional.
He also said the pressure of succeeding for Porsche fell off him after the checkered flag in Cape Town. "I have so much respect for this brand," Felix da Costa juts out in response to our query, "and it's a huge honor to represent it on the track. But because Pascal (Wehrlein) won the first races, the pressure on me got bigger and bigger."
"In 30 interviews since the start of the season, I was always asked why he was so successful and I wasn't performing. That does not pass by without a trace. Then there was the race with starting position 11, the missed attack mode and the duel against JEV. It was just a big burden that fell off me!"
"He's an absolute winner with the will to win races," said the Porsche driver, describing his former teammate Vergne. "However, I also have that will, which made it sometimes complicated for us when we were teammates. So I was aware that the move against him would be very difficult. But also that I can have confidence that he won't do anything stupid and that no accident will happen. He has proven what a respectful driver he is. That's what makes him a two-time champion, too!"
After Formula E's South Africa race, Vergne and Felix da Costa now rank within reach of the world championship leading duo of Pascal Wehrlein and Jake Dennis - with less than 35 points separating them from the lead in the overall standings. Porsche held on to first place in the team standings thanks to Felix da Costa's win over Envision Racing. DS Penske sits 5th overall after the first four race weekends of the season.