Formula E

Media report: Felix da Costa to stay with Porsche, but another WEC & Formula E clash could have consequences

Tobias Wirtz

Tobias Wirtz

Antonio Felix da Costa will not be leaving Porsche and will now fulfil his contract, which runs until the end of the 2024/25 season. This is reported by the colleagues of The Race. However, there could be changes for two other ex-champions of the electric racing series. One reason is the renewed clash of dates between the Berlin E-Prix and a race of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

Porsche will continue to contest the coming season with its current driver duo: Although Antonio Felix da Costa made an even weaker start to the 2024 season after a poor 2023 season, where he failed to score any points in the first three races and had just 20 points to his name after seven of 16 races, his recent wave of success has prompted a rethink at the German manufacturer. The Portuguese driver won in Berlin, Shanghai and twice in Portland and is in fourth place in the drivers' standings ahead of the final race weekend in London, where he even still has a theoretical chance of winning the world championship title. With 108 points since the Berlin E-Prix, he is by far the most successful driver in recent weeks, while team-mate Wehrlein only scored 53 points in the same period.

Points comparison 2024: Pascal Wehrlein & Antonio Felix da Costa

In spring, Porsche was already actively looking for alternatives: ABT driver Nico Müller even sat in the car during a Porsche manufacturer test - an absolutely unusual occurrence, especially in the first third of a new season. However, a transfer of the Swiss driver to the team in Weissach is no longer an issue for the coming season, nor is a transfer of Felix da Costa. Several teams are said to have expressed interest in the twelve-time E-Prix winner in recent weeks.

The World Endurance Championship is said to have been one of the reasons for the Portuguese driver's desire to switch: Felix da Costa had to end his dual programme of WEC and Formula E at the end of last year due to pressure from Porsche. He had previously raced in the LMP2 class in endurance racing before taking a seat in the Jota Racing customer Porsche 963 in 2023. The main reason for Porsche's decision was that the Berlin E-Prix overlapped with the WEC race at Spa-Francorchamps. A situation that will be repeated in 2025: The Formula E race in the German capital overlaps with the endurance race in Sao Paulo.

Driver change at Envision Racing very likely

But not only Porsche, but also other Formula E teams no longer seem willing to tolerate the participation of their drivers in the WEC. For example, Envision Racing had to replace its two regular drivers Sebastien Buemi and Robin Frijns in Berlin, who competed for Toyota and BMW respectively in the hypercar class. According to reports, team boss Sylvain Filippi is no longer in favour of having to swap both drivers for the German double-header again next season. As both drivers have long-term contracts in WEC and these are formulated in such a way that the WEC races take priority over other racing series, a change is very likely.

This is where another ex-champion comes into play: Stoffel Vandoorne, world champion in 2022 and runner-up in 2020, has hardly had any success in his second season with DS Penske. With 11th and 10th place in the championship, he has fallen well short of his own expectations and has only finished on the podium once in the past 30 races. Compared to his team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne, Vandoorne's points haul is extremely meagre.

In view of this, a switch to Envision seems quite likely. Although Vandoorne is also currently racing in the WEC for Peugeot, this contract allows him to prioritise Formula E. In this context, the question arises as to whether the Belgian will continue to drive endurance races for one of the Stellantis brands if he leaves the other Stellantis manufacturer in the group. It is quite possible that we will no longer see Vandoorne in a hypercar in 2025.

The most likely candidate to leave Envision would therefore be Sebastien Buemi: the Formula E champion from Season 2 and former dominator of the electric racing series has been waiting for another race win since the 2019 New York City E-Prix, almost five years to the day - when Nissan raced with the controversial twin-motor concept in the first Gen2 season. This is an extremely long time for Buemi, who is otherwise so spoilt for success and has been world champion three times and runner-up three times in the WEC with Toyota in the past six years. For Robin Frijns, on the other hand, the double podium in Portland could have come at the right time: The Dutchman's stay at Envision has thus become much more likely.

Hughes about to jump ship at McLaren?

However, other drivers are also being considered for a switch: Jake Hughes is said to be highly favoured by Nissan after repeatedly impressing with good qualifying performances at customer team McLaren. With Oliver Rowland, the works team had a driver in the title fight until he was unable to make the journey to Portland due to health reasons. Nevertheless, the points score in the duel against team-mate Sacha Fenestraz is 131 to 26 - by far the biggest difference between two team-mates in the current season. One argument against this is that Nissan would like a little more consistency in the team and wants to start the new season with the same driver pairing for the first time since 2021.

The question of Nico Müller remains: now that a switch to Porsche is off the table, at least for the coming season, the ABT deal with the new manufacturer Lola-Yamaha could be a possible reason for the Swiss driver to stay with his team. However, as Müller also has an active connection to Stellantis through his Peugeot involvement in the WEC, a switch to DS Penske as Vandoorne's replacement would also be conceivable.

We expect the official announcement of the first decisions on the driver market immediately after the London E-Prix, which will be the season finale of the 2024 Formula E World Championship on 20 and 21 July.

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