Da Costa gives Porsche another win with brilliant pass on Vergne in Cape Town

Formula E

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Porsche’s Antonio Felix da Costa won Formula E’s inaugural Cape Town E-Prix with an incredible penultimate lap pass on Jean-Eric Vergne.

Da Costa claimed victory from 11th on the grid ahead of the previous race winner Vergne, who started fifth.

Nissan’s Sacha Fenestraz led the field away from pole ahead of Maximilian Gunther. The Maserati driver held his place after some side-by-side action with Envision Racing’s Nick Cassidy.

Further back there was drama as two drivers exited the race on lap one. Gunther’s team mate Edoardo Mortara, who had started from the pit lane, pulled off and retired.

Meanwhile da Costa’s team mate, championship leader Pascal Wehrlein, suffered a heavy front-left lock-up going into turn 10 and speared into Envision’s Sebastien Buemi. Wehrlein retired, and Buemi dropped to the back of the field.

The race was put under Full Course Yellow on lap two, and Gunther made use of the countdown to FCY, beginning to pass Fenestraz for the lead just as the race was neutralised. He was later put under investigation for the move.

Race control summoned the Safety Car a lap later, and drivers spent three laps running behind it before being released again.

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Due to the hot conditions, several drivers decided to use Attack Mode as soon as possible. Da Costa moved into the top seven on lap nine when NIO 333’s Dan Ticktum moved to activate it for the first time.

Fenestraz dropped behind Cassidy when he went to use Attack Mode, and Cassidy then claimed the race lead when Gunther did the same. Jaguar’s Mitch Evans was just behind, but he then got a drive-through penalty for running over the power limit.

That promoted McLaren’s Rene Rast to fourth, with Vergne and da Costa right on his tail. Rast bided his time before finally committing to using Attack Mode, and it dropped him behind Vergne. Da Costa was able to activate the power boost without losing a position, and he made it into the top five with a pass on Rast when he went for his second deployment.

The lead drivers had not been able to break away, and going into the race’s second half there was a queue of six cars led by Cassidy. Da Costa moved up another position as Vergne used Attack Mode again, and the pair started hassling the top three who had been using up more energy.

Cassidy led the way, and one of his rivals exited proceedings as Gunther crashed out of third place on the run to the first corner. That led to another FCY period.

Da Costa made the most of the countdown to the race neutralisation just like Gunther had before. He passed Fenestraz when he went to activate Attack Mode and looked to have nosed ahead Cassidy too into the lead, but backed off to ensure Cassidy stayed ahead. Vergne also cleared Fenestraz, and once the race went green again the pair continued to make use of their energy advantage to rise up to the front.

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Next Da Costa made an incredible move on Cassidy around the outside on the right-hand kink just before the high-speed turn eight left-hander, and stayed ahead as he went for his next bite of Attack Mode.

Cassidy, needing to save energy to make the end of the race, was overtaken by Vergne who then closed in on da Costa as it turned out the leader had not triggered all of the sensors in the Attack Mode area at the final corner to actually make use of his boost.

That meant da Costa had to try again, and this time he did lose the lead to Vergne. However he now had the faster car, and hassled Vergne until the penultimate lap when they went wheel-to-wheel into turn eight. The pair made contact but both remained committed through the corner and da Costa got back through.

Vergne had an opportunity to come back at his rival on the last lap as da Costa has less energy, but could not get by and da Costa delivered Porsche’s third win of the season. Fenestraz passed an energy-saving Cassidy for third but then crashed, meaning the ladder claimed his second podium in a row.

Rast finished fourth, and Buemi passed Ticktum late on to finish fifth in a brilliant recovery drive. Stoffel Vandoorne, Norman Nato, a penalise Andre Lotterer and Jake Hughes completed the top 10.

Jake Dennis held onto second place in the championship despite failing to score for the second race in a row. The Andretti Autosport driver was handed a drive-through penalty for his tyre pressures being too low. Wehrlein, who took no points for the first time this year, maintains his points lead.

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Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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3 comments on “Da Costa gives Porsche another win with brilliant pass on Vergne in Cape Town”

  1. Wherlien still immature and both overtakes by DaCosta were brilliant.

  2. Brilliant race and great last few laps with that big battle for the lead.
    Track was fast, cars looked on the edge and drivers could push.
    FE should adopt this kind of street circuits more often, without all the needless slow bits.

  3. Another entertaining race. This generation of car is bringing some great action, with the drivers really being able to make a difference.

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