Formula E

Wehrlein extends Formula E lead in Monaco despite FIA trouble, Felix da Costa with brilliant recovery drive

Tobias Wirtz

Tobias Wirtz

Pascal Wehrlein further extended his lead in the overall Formula E standings at the Monaco E-Prix. The German won the qualifying session and finished fifth in the race, taking home a total of 13 points. Team-mate Antonio Felix da Costa also scored valuable points in the Principality. Nevertheless, both drivers were annoyed after the race about what they saw as two unfortunate actions.

In qualifying, Wehrlein proved once again that he is currently the driver to beat on a fast lap: for the seventh time in eight races, he made it into the duels, where he remained unbeaten in Monaco. For the third time this season, the number 94 Porsche started from first position.

Hopes of a podium finish were quickly dashed, however: Wehrlein was the first driver to activate his attack mode on the third lap and dropped back to fifth place. As the two Jaguar and DS Penske drivers in front of him used skilful tactics to actived their attack mode, he was unable to regain these positions by the end of the race. As he was able to block the attacks of Max Günther and Oliver Rowland and received support from Antonio Felix da Costa when activating the second attack mode, he retained fifth place until the finish.

"Wrong call from the race director"

"That was a tough race," said Wehrlein after the race. "I lost a lot of time due to the early attack mode. That put two Jaguars and two DS cars in front of me. They both did a very clever job, making space for each other and often driving side by side. There wasn’t much I could do about it. It’s a shame because our pace was better than we were able to demonstrate today."

However, the German has a particular gripe with one situation: he was instructed to give back a position during the first safety car phase. In his eyes, this compromised the rest of his race because it allowed the competitors to play their tactical games.

"From my point of view there was a wrong call from the race director, that I had to let Vergne through during the safety car," Wehrlein complained after the race to "The race director thought I passed him under yellow or safety car, which is not true. The safety car came out two corners later and the yellow flag was 50m ahead before I passed him. So, from what I saw in the car, this was the wrong thing to do which then enabled the DS cars to play the game together in front of us."

Felix da Costa: "In the wrong place at the wrong time"

Antonio Felix da Costa in the second works Porsche managed to make it into the battle for the top eight in qualifying for the first time this season. P7 on the grid was the Portuguese driver's best grid position to date. At the end of the race, this was also to be his position.

However, he is still struggling with a race situation that prevented a better result. In the Fairmont hairpin, he was involved in a collision between Sergio Sette Camara and Sebastien Buemi through no fault of his own: The ERT driver optimistically stabbed into it on the inside lane and hit the Swiss driver, whose Envision car lost contact with the ground with two wheels. Buemi slid into the track barrier and blocked the outside lane of the corner - just where Felix da Costa was.

The Portuguese driver had to stop and even shift into reverse to get past the obstacle. In the meantime, all of his rivals had long since passed him on the inside of the bend. At the end of the fourth lap, Felix da Costa was only in 19th place.

At least he had enough time to prove the performance of his Porsche 99X Electric: After a safety car period, the field was close together again and Felix da Costa started an impressive chase to catch up, which took him up to 6th place. After another safety car period, he lost this position to Oliver Rowland, behind whom he eventually crossed the finish line.

"I was in the wrong place at the wrong time – that seems to be my problem at the moment," said Felix da Costa. "It could’ve been a good day for us. I qualified seventh and had a good car in the race. I remained patient and wasn’t rash. But then the track in front of me was blocked, I got stuck and lost ground. We’ll keep our heads up and continue fighting.”

"These points were extremely important for us," explained Porsche's Director Factory Motorsport Formula E, Florian Modlinger, after the race. "We can’t be entirely satisfied because when you start from pole, you expect to fight for the podium. Looking at the overall standings, the points for Pascal’s fifth place were critical. As a result, he extended his world championship lead. We rank second in the teams’ championship and are still the best manufacturer. We’re now heading into the second half of the season feeling confident and are looking forward to the home races in Berlin."

The double-header in the German capital will take place on 11 and 12 May.

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