Da Costa denies Frijns on final lap to win thrilling Monaco EPrix

Formula E

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Antonio Felix da Costa won the Monaco EPrix in dramatic fashion, losing the lead from pole early on before fighting back to clinch victory with a last-lap pass.

The DS Techeetah driver took pole in an incredibly tight Super Pole session where four drivers on the front two rows qualified within 0.059 seconds of each other.

The real upset of qualifying was championship leader Nyck de Vries, who seemed to be trying to back the Jaguar cars behind him up before crossing the chequered flag for a hot lap. Whatever his strategy, it ultimately ended with him setting a poor lap, without the full 250kW for the second and third sectors, putting him right to the back of the grid at the race start.

Da Costa came off the line ahead but Robin Frijns, who started alongside him on the front row, was able to stay with the Techeetah driver in the early laps and sooner passed him. Da Costa responded by being first to take Attack Mode but wasn’t able to make good use of it, ending up under pressure from team mate Jean-Eric Vergne and Mitch Evans.

At the 30 minute mark, Vergne and Evans were locked in a battle which saw them go side-by-side through the chicane and Vergne force Evans off, to have to cut it. Although Evans took the place back and Vergne was also passed by Maximilian Guenther, the incident was placed under investigation. Evans was told to let Vergne back through, as he technically had passed him off-track and ended up also being passed by Da Costa.

The two were able to get past Vergne together, before Evans made a clinical move on Da Costa through Beau Virage with 15 minutes to go. Just seconds after, a Safety Car was called when René Rast stopped on track at the uphill section, just past turn two, during another dismal day for Audi that had steadily got worse from a mediocre qualifying.

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Rast’s stricken car was awkwardly positioned and had to be rolled back down the hill, extending the Safety Car period. Racing restarted with just under six minutes remaining. Had it resumed a minute later, no energy reduction would have been imposed, under new rules brought in to prevent a repeat of repeat of Valencia’s energy management nightmare. Nonetheless all cars had enough energy remaining to finish the race, and did so in spectacular style.

An ugly day for Mercedes continued when Stoffel Vandoorne was forced into the pits in the final four minutes of the race. Neither silver car had been running in the points, while both Jaguar cars were in the top ten – a crucial swing in their battle for the title.

Da Costa was just inches away from Evans’ rear on the final few laps, with Frijns immediately behind him. Repeated, light contact between the leaders wasn’t helped by yellow flags in the middle sector due to De Vries stopping at the approach to Tabac, off the racing line.

The final lap began with Da Costa hounding Evans with shades of Nigel Mansell and Ayrton Senna. But unlike Mansell, Da Costa was able to make a move stick.

Bursting out of the tunnel for the final time Da Costa went for the outside into the chicane, tyres smoking as he brought his car to a near-stop in time to clip the apex. Evans was left a sitting duck, pushed down to third by Frijns before the flag. Vergne took fourth followed by Guenther, Rowland, Bird, Cassidy, Lotterer and Lynn.

Nonetheless, it was a good day for Jaguar in the championship. Although Robin Frijns took the lead in the drivers’ championship, both Evans and Bird scored while neither Mercedes car finished, eating a sizeable chunk out of the lead they had drawn out in Valencia.

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Race result

PositionDriverTeam
1Antonio Felix da CostaDS Techeetah
2Robin FrijnsVirgin
3Mitch EvansJaguar
4Jean-Eric VergneDS Techeetah
5Max GuentherBMW Andretti
6Oliver RowlandNissan e.Dams
7Sam BirdJaguar
8Nick CassidyVirgin
9Andre LottererPorsche
10Alex LynnMahindra
11Lucas di GrassiAudi
12Sebastien BuemiNissan e.Dams
13Edoardo MortaraVenturi
14Norman NatoVenturi
15Tom BlomqvistNIO 333
16Sergio Sette CamaraDragon Penske
17Jake DennisBMW Andretti
18Nico MuellerDragon Penske
19Oliver TurveyNIO 333
DNFPascal WehrleinPorsche
DNFNyck de VriesMercedes
DNFStoffel VandoorneMercedes
DNFRene RastAudi
DNFAlex SimsMahindra

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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  • 15 comments on “Da Costa denies Frijns on final lap to win thrilling Monaco EPrix”

    1. I have never heard Jack Nicholls so excited before. That really was an enthralling race, particularly watching Da Costa trying to pass Evans those final few laps.

    2. That was a brilliant race, I’ll always be an F1 fan first but watching so much close racing round Monaco was really entertaining.

    3. Cracking race. Best I think I’ve ever seen there.
      F1 will be an embarrassing bore in comparison. But then, it is even without a comparison.

      1. I remember hearing someone (Martin Brundle, maybe?) describe Monaco like this:
        ‘If someone suggested adding a new circuit similar to Monaco to the F1 calendar, they would not be taken seriously, but they would be considered just as mad if they suggested removing Monaco from the F1 calendar.’ (or words to that effect).
        I think this is the perfect way to describe F1 in Monaco. Yes, the races are usually a procession, but it would be such a shame if it was scrapped. There’s something really special about Monaco, and while nobody would ever want a full season of Monaco GPs, having it once a year is the right amount. There are 23 races in a season this year, but Monaco is so unique, and in my opinion, should never be scrapped.

        1. On the contrary – I’d be quite happy to get rid of it.
          I certainly didn’t miss it last year.

        2. Well said @f1frog Monaco is a unique challenge and one of F1s most important races.

        3. there is something really special about Monaco… to some people, like yourself. To me personally i dont like it and have no feelings of nostalgia about it. F1 has the most conservative racing fans, thats why most are against new ideas, like Halo and sprint races and live in the past (ie dreaming of v12 engines back in f1). not saying any of that is bad, just saying that Monaco is special to some, and not to others.

    4. Best race in Monaco in years.
      Da Costa’s move on the last lap was nothing short of amazing.
      Not always faster = better racing!

    5. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
      8th May 2021, 18:24

      Finally a great race overall! The fact that Monaco (notorious for it’s tight nature) produced one of the best Formula E races in history, must definitely make the Fe organizers think better of the locations they choose for their races.

      For instance, Paris or Sanya are objectively, really bad places to host a race so eventually the show is equally bad…

      As for the race, it was a big shame that Rast crashed out from a really solid points scoring position. Despite the fact that he teamed with an extremely experienced driver, he has the upper hand of Di Grassi in many cases. Shame that Audi is leaving the sport, as this results in Rast leaving as well i would thought.

    6. Watching this race reminded me why I usually don’t follow Formula E. The fanboost is just ridiculous! Handing someone such an advantage over a rival just isn’t fair! I felt so bad for Frijns, as Da Costa getting the fanboost totally ruined Robin’s chance of a victory.
      Don’t get me wrong, Da Costa’s move on Evans into the harbour chicane was stunning, but he shouldn’t have been in that position to start with (only the fanboost got him there). It’s just too artificial for my liking.

      1. Plenty of people laud F1 passes made possible due to the powerful DRS available on the straight before the corner.

      2. It is fair as it is available to all drivers. just like DRS in F1.

    7. Yes, Fanboost is ridiculous, but this was still the best FE race I have ever seen.

    8. It was a shame De Vries seemingly broke down near the end, as he had about 1/3 more energy than the tightly spaced pack ahead of him with 6 minutes to go. It would have been interesting to see if he could have fought through for points by overtaking 10 cars in 5 laps. It was plausible I think.
      Evans gained a fan today. His qualifying lap was wild, and that move at Beau Rivage was so gutsy. And hats off to Da Costa for not killing Evans when presented with the opportunity – he seems a nice chap.

    9. Retain Monaco for next year.

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