In perhaps one of the most exciting battles in Formula E history, Porsche’s António Félix da Costa pushed into the lead on the final lap to clinch his first victory as a Porsche works driver in the new Porsche 99X Electric. Team driver Pascal Wehrlein suffered a crash under braking on the first lap, causing him to retire from the E Prix, but the championship leader held enough points over Jake Dennis—second in the championship and driver for Andretti Porsche—scored no points in this round finishing 13th. Andretti teammate and former Porsche driver Andre Lotterer finished in 9th to pick up a couple of points for himself.
Da Costa put in a stunning drive to charge up the ranks from 11th on the grid to win the race on the last lap with a fantastic overtake on the DS Penske car of Jean-Eric Vergne. After some serious driving Da Costa had actually moved into the lead of the race on lap 24 of the 32 laps run, but he still needed to take the long way around the corner to activate his attack mode for one minute of bonus power. With a handful of laps remaining he dipped out to the side, but didn’t go quite far enough to activate it, which is mandatory during the course of the race. He fell back into the clutches of Vergne, and when he finally did activate it a couple of laps later, he was passed for the lead. Surely that would have been the ballgame, but with time to make up da Costa pushed for everything he had and made an extremely unlikely move around the outside to take back the top spot with half a lap remaining, then held on to it for a checkered flag victory.
With teammate Pascal Wehrlein out of the race, da Costa was the only Porsche pushing at the front. The other two Porsche-powered cars from Andretti were further down the order with poor qualifying form and a drive-through penalty for Jake Dennis for overuse of energy in a particular lap. Lotterer had fought his way up to 6th, but fell to 9th on the final lap.
Despite falling out of the race Wehrlein holds on to his championship lead with 80 points over Jake Dennis with 62. Neither of those drivers scored points on Saturday, however, meaning that Jean-Eric Vergne caught up to them both seriously with a second place finish (and the only non-Porsche driver to score a win so far this season) now third in the championship on 50 points, while da Costa’s win pushed him up to 46 points and fourth in the championship. It seems like he’s really getting the hang of this Porsche 99X Electric, and growing into his position as a Porsche factory driver.
Comments on the Cape Town E-Prix, Race 5
Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President Porsche Motorsport: “That was an incredible race with a fantastic result for Porsche. I’m thrilled that António has won his first race as Porsche works driver and scored crucial points for the team. It’s a shame about Pascal. His qualifying performance was very strong but he made a mistake in the race. Still, mistakes happen. All the better if your teammate can step up. We have two drivers who can win races. I’m proud of the whole team. That was our third win of the season. Now we have to stay focused.”
Florian Modlinger, Director Factory Motorsport Formula E: “The Formula E debut in Cape Town was a great event. Fantastic circuit, great racing, avid fans and victory for António – this was the best advertising for Formula E. I’m delighted for António. He made a minor error in qualifying but made up for it with a sensational race. On the flip side, I’m very sorry for Pascal. But we’re a team. We win together and we lose together. He’ll be back at the next races to show what he’s capable of. Now, for the first time this season, we have a four-week break. The team will use this time to recharge the batteries. And then we’ll be back at full revs in Sao Paulo.”
António Félix da Costa, Porsche works driver (#13): “I still can’t believe it. What a race! Clinching my first win for Porsche here in Cape Town after starting from P11 is simply fantastic. It actually felt like an endurance race with so much happening. Our strategy worked perfectly and I tried to keep my cool over the whole distance but when I crossed the finish line, I got a bit tearful. I want to thank everyone in the team for their terrific support and trust. It spurred me on and made this achievement possible.”
Pascal Wehrlein, Porsche works driver (#94): “That was a disappointing race for me. After qualifying well, I could have achieved a lot today. That was obviously my fault. I braked a little too late and a little too hard, the wheels locked up and I couldn’t avoid the collision. Mistakes happen. I’m now looking ahead. It was a great day for Porsche. The team and I are very pleased about António’s win.”