until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

Porsche's response to Formula E driver discord suggestions

by Sam Smith
4 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Porsche has attempted to shut down notions that it is not fully backing - or even that it’s undermining - its works Formula E driver Antonio Felix da Costa, after it recently tried Abt Cupra’s Nico Mueller mid-season as part of a surprise evaluation test for 2025.

The Race revealed last month that Mueller had run with Porsche at a test at the Almeira track in Spain in a highly unusual move given the 2024 season is in progress and he races for a rival team.

At the time of that test, Da Costa had had a difficult start to the season with three non-scores in Mexico City and Riyadh.

Antonio Felix da Costa Porsche Tokyo Formula E 2024

He has since gone on to score a sixth and fourth place in Sao Paulo and Tokyo respectively, out-scoring championship-leading team-mate Pascal Wehrlein in the latter.

That race is believed to have included some so far unheard heated radio communications between the team and da Costa, although Porsche’s director of factory motorsport for Formula E, Florian Modlinger, told The Race at Misano that there are no explicit team orders in place yet.

While Wehrlein has two poles from the season’s five rounds so far, it took da Costa until round four in Brazil to get beyond the group stages of qualifying and he’s yet to start higher than eighth. His average 2024 grid position so far is 14.6 compared to Wehrlein’s 4.8 and he is 43 points and 10 places adrift of his team-mate in the championship.

“It’s the single lap which we still need to improve with him and he needs to be regularly in the duels and that’s the target,” said Modlinger of da Costa.

“I compare motorsport always to chess; it’s a strategic sport and you try to maximise the points for the manufacturer, for the team and for the driver. It’s clear as a team you want to maximise first team, manufacturer then also on the driver.

“It is clear we have a discrepancy there [in points], but when you review the race in Tokyo we told Pascal to let him by.

Antonio Felix da Costa

“We are so early in the race season, only five races done in the 16. You cannot clearly prioritise one guy already, you always try to maximise the outcome and the output of points for a dedicated race for the whole team, and this we also saw in Tokyo.

“We will not do it differently here. When we see a chance to maximise the points of teams, the team situation, [we will] use both drivers.”

The Race indicated in a column earlier this week that the da Costa and Porsche relationship had cooled significantly in recent months and that the Mueller test was effectively assessing him as a future replacement.

But Modlinger said da Costa had “our full support; the whole engineering team, mechanics are fully behind him.”

Antonio Felix da Costa

“We spent a lot of work after Mexico and Diriyah where he had three zero points results in a row, we put even more capacity on him than Pascal to help him progress and get him performing. That’s clear, and we will continue,” he continued.

“Clearly he has the support, we work with him hard in the simulator, the engineering, the mechanics, and support him fully.”

Commenting again on the Mueller test, which The Race understands was communicated to da Costa ahead of it happening, Modlinger called it a “usual process” despite the fact Mueller is racing for Abt Cupra at present.

“Testing within the season, in my opinion and what I’m used to in the past, also in other series but also in Formula E, it’s a usual process that we test other drivers and look who’s sitting in the programme maybe for the future,” said Modlinger.

Florian Modlinger

“You see also in the official tests we do, rookie testing where the drivers are announced and then in private testing, we test our drivers in what we think is the correct way to do it.

“But we will not speak about the names, who it is.

“I know it from the past, we did it in DTM, we did it in Audi, here it’s not different and it’s a pure evaluation of drivers for the future.”

Although Modlinger arrived at the Porsche team in early 2022 ahead of da Costa, it is believed that the 2019/20 FE champion had actually agreed to sign for Porsche ahead of that.

When asked by The Race if he was tempted to look at alternative drivers because da Costa was not his own pick, Modlinger replied that he “did not defer to if it was a driver of my choice or not”.

“I’m too analytical to put any emotions in,” he added. 

“I want to have success, I want to have the two best drivers in the field, I want to have the best team around and the best car. That’s always the target and it’s an evolution year by year.”

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