until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

Remarkable Porsche-da Costa saga ends in a deal

by Sam Smith
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

The Race can reveal that Formula E form driver Antonio Felix da Costa will stay at Porsche after all, as a tumultuous period of negotiations between team and driver concluded this week in favour of continuity.

Da Costa, winner of the three most recent Formula E races and four of the last five, will remain alongside Pascal Wehrlein for a third successive season.

That resolution comes despite a fractious relationship with some elements of the senior leadership team for the majority of the season and several twists and turns over negotiations recently.

This began last autumn when da Costa was informed that he would be unable to continue racing in both Formula E and the World Endurance Championship. Da Costa had done this continually since 2018 for the BMW MTEK and Jota teams in the WEC, scoring an LMP2 title success and Le Mans 24 Hours class victory for Jota in 2022.

Da Costa continued this two-pronged programme in 2023, his first year as a Porsche factory driver in Formula E, with the Jota team which by this time had become a customer Porsche squad in the WEC Hypercar class.

Plans for da Costa to continue with Jota were in place for 2024 but these were essentially blocked by Porsche last autumn. It is believed that there was a chance of him racing in the WEC with Jota again in 2025 but this has now been shut off by the decision to stay with Porsche.

While da Costa likely had interest from other manufacturers in the WEC, it appears that recent Formula E success and some reconciliation between him and Porsche led to an agreement that he would see out his contract until the end of the 2024-25 campaign.

The 2020 champion also had multiple offers from rival Formula E teams had a plan to move away from Porsche been put into action, and these would have allowed him to complete a dual programme once again next season.

The Race understands that there was a point in recent weeks when da Costa and Porsche looked as if they were going to part ways but a last-minute resolution was found to save the relationship.

It had deteriorated earlier in the year and Porsche even tested Nico Mueller after the first three races of the season, at which point da Costa had no points and his poor qualifying form was a known concern of Porsche's.

But his turnaround in the second half of this season has been remarkable; da Costa's four recent wins have elevated him to fourth in the drivers' championship and he will head to the season-ending double-header in London later this month with an outside shot at a second title (though team-mate Wehrlein is better-placed in joint second overall).

Official confirmation of Porsche’s unchanged line-up for next season is expected after the season finale at London ExCeL later this month.

The Race says

The exact permutations and detailed negotiations of recent days and weeks on the Formula E driver market will one day read as an astonishing testament to a multi-faceted and, at times, febrile scenario in which Antonio Felix da Costa and Porsche played an intricate and vital role.

That role is now over.

Yet conversely its ripple effects will create new narratives of multiple moves at other teams including Envision, Maserati MSG, Nissan, DS Penske and Andretti. McLaren, Abt Cupra and ERT could also likely experience effects in what is a kind of second tier of the market movements now.

But had da Costa moved on from Porsche the chaos would have been even greater, as drivers scattered in their quest to get a seat on the 22-car grid for a new season that starts later this calendar year in Sao Paulo.

The da Costa saga is, on one level at least, over. So how now to view it?

On one hand, Porsche is likely to portray a ‘nothing to see here’ narrative - that it was always going to have stability - when it confirms its drivers for 2025.

By definition this is both true and false.

Yes, da Costa has a contract for the 2024-25 season so on the face of it nothing has changed. But the reality is that da Costa’s manager, ex-Formula 1 driver Tiago Monteiro, has been in detailed meetings with Porsche top brass over his driver’s plain unhappiness at stages over the last nine months or so.

How close did it come to da Costa leaving? Probably very close. Ultimately it seems that common sense has prevailed to some extent, although there are likely to be some aftershocks - which includes da Costa not being able to facilitate his wish to be on the WEC grid next season once again.

This will likely change for 2026 when da Costa will likely move on to another Formula E team and try to rebuild the dual programme he so craves.

The blackballing of his WEC ambitions is known to have personally hurt da Costa, who revels in racing as much as possible.

However, from Porsche’s view its investment in the 2019-20 Formula E champion was not being fulfilled due to a perceived dilution in focus after a middling 2023 season.

It is true that da Costa’s first season at Porsche was not as strong as either party had hoped, although he did take a remarkable victory in Cape Town in only his fifth race for the manufacturer.

Though there was a third place at Portland, and a runner-up finish in London that was taken away by disqualification, da Costa was outscored by 56 points by Wehrlein and struggled in qualifying.

The present season started poorly with no points in the first three races, and da Costa’s self-confessed worst ever performance at the two Diriyah E-Prixs in January.

Yet, the fightback has been remarkable, and even some of his detractors within the Porsche team have had to applaud the way in which he has delivered since the middle of the season.

Things move fast in the Formula E paddock and this saga has stretched the realms of reality many times over since The Race uncovered the discord between Porsche and da Costa back in March at the Tokyo E-Prix.

Now, with da Costa likely to be a lynchpin in assisting team-mate Wehrlein’s own title claims in London, and those of Porsche’s own teams' title aspirations, a new chapter in this remarkable story, perhaps the most fantastical driver/team saga this writer has ever covered, might still to be played out in Docklands in a fortnight's time.

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