until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E

What went on in da Costa’s disastrous Diriyah weekend

by Sam Smith
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Antonio Felix da Costa described his opening weekend to the 2022 ABB FIA Formula E world championship as “really painful” and “one of the hardest weekends in motorsport that I’ve had in a long time”.

The 2019-20 champion left Saudi Arabia pointless after a weekend of issues with his car, a first-corner retirement and an embarrassing qualifying protocol incident.

Da Costa was taken out of the first race after being struck by Formula E debutant Dan Ticktum’s NIO 333 car, while his Saturday race was compromised by having his quarter-final duel time scratched off, ensuring he could only start in seventh place on the grid.

This was caused by what The Race understands to have been a communication error by his team, who mistakenly told him he had more time than he realised before his green light came on to enter the track.

At this point Da Costa looked down in the cockpit when the first green light came on, missing it, and then reacting instead to di Grassi’s cue to enter the track

The car release for the duels is based on the preceding car crossing the ‘inter line’ in the pitlane rather than any predicted timing. The DS Techeetah engineering team is believed to have misinterpreted this, resulting in the driver believing he had more time than he actually had to play with.

Da Costa completed his lap but then had it annulled for hindering di Grassi’s original exit from the pits.

Antonio Felix da Costa DS Techeetah Diriyah Formula E

Da Costa refused to elaborate entirely on the situation but told The Race that “at the end of the day, I’m in the car, I have to press the throttle and go”.

“There was more going on in those moments, but I don’t want to put the finger on anyone because we work always as a team and stick together as a team,” he added.

“But this was definitely one of the hardest weekends in motorsport that I’ve had in a long time.”

Da Costa’s pace during the two days was erratic and he believes that a recurring braking issue allied to losing any meaningful race running on Friday contributed hugely to his difficult Saturday race.

“It was weird, like we could still produce a couple of fast laps every now and then throughout practice and even in quali today [Saturday],” he said.

“But there were a few things that we felt were wrong from shakedown.

Antonio Felix da Costa DS Techeetah Diriyah Formula E

“Obviously there was a little bit of a risk in changing and taking a different approach, so we decided to stick with it and one of them was my was my brakes.

“Unfortunately, it just kept getting worse and I paid a big price for that in the race as basically my front right brake just locked up, I think, 80% of the time I pressed the brake pedal.”

Losing positions from the very first lap, Da Costa initially dropped to 12th and was unable to exert a sustained challenge for a points-scoring position. He took the chequered flag a dejected 13th on the road, promoted one place by a time penalty for Mitch Evans.

“Obviously it takes accuracy and precision away from my driving as there’s just one line here and if you miss the line by 10 centimetres, you’re on the dust and in the wall,

“It really was frustrating, it was very hard, and I can’t remember the last time I lost a position in lap one of a race, and those first six laps were so, so painful for me.”

“I just felt like the tide was completely- we have to paddle, paddle, paddle super hard against it.”

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