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Formula E

Winners and losers from Formula E's first Misano weekend

by Sam Smith, Alice Holloway
13 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula E's first visit to Misano was dominated by heartbreak for those who led on the final lap of the two races.

All of those individuals involved in those heartbreaks/triumphs inevitably feature in Sam Smith's latest winners and losers list:



Porsche may have come away with a net two-point loss to Jaguar in the title stakes but that told little of its melodramatic soap opera-style weekend in Italy.

A sensational win for Antonio Felix da Costa on Saturday was then stripped away in extraordinarily odd circumstances that involved a largely insignificant component and a parts catalogue.

There was also a shunt for Wehrlein one day, a win the next, and then an escalation in its often fractious relationship with the FIA. This was a pulp fiction narrative of a weekend.

“A sporting win on track for Antonio which was taken away, today we won one for Pascal and after (Saturday) that felt good,” Porsche’s Formula E director Florian Modlinger told The Race.

“Two times zero points for the other car (da Costa), and as always our target must be to score good points with both cars.

“If I’m really happy always for one side, our target must be to have the same race both there and that’s what we try for Monaco.”

Asked if the events of Saturday evening with the FIA lit a fire under Porsche for Sunday’s race, Modlinger said “that’s the approach. You want to show them we are able to do it again. We want to give the answer on the track.

“I think today, again, we showed how strong we are on track. I think it was a good strong answer to the events of yesterday.”

Ultimately though this was a strong weekend for Porsche, which showed it was the quickest and most efficient powertrain on the grid.

Oliver Rowland/Nissan

While The Race can, it will indulge itself in rather flagrantly basking in some ‘told you, so,’ antics right here.

In our season preview we were blunt in stating that Oliver Rowland would be a factor in this season's championship. So, it has proved.

There was a quiet hunger from Rowland, who has developed from a fast but generally inconsistent performer in Gen2 with Nissan, via a wasted 18 months in the wilderness at Mahindra, to a Nissan return with extra focus and an aptitude for both qualifying brilliance and well-managed races.

He’s showing Cassidy and Dennis 2023 levels of consistency on a variety of tracks and talk between his rivals on Sunday night was that he will be a title factor this season.

Monaco is up next and for Rowland and Nissan this will be another chance to get big points as the team had one of its best qualifying performances of the season last time around.

“If you offered me four podiums, a win by now I would have ripped your hand off so despite the disappointment today I’m pretty chuffed,” Rowland told The Race.

The cherry on top of the cake for Nissan boss Tommaso Volpe and the team will have been Rowland's team-mate Sacha Fenestraz at last seeming to have relocated some of his mojo after a poor start to his second Formula E season.

His much-needed fifth place prompted Volpe to tell The Race that he “proved he doesn’t have a problem with race management” and that unlike Rowland’s disaster Sunday, the “strategy for Sacha was perfect.”

More on Rowland's Sunday strategy later...

Jake Dennis

On paper, it appears Dennis easily tapped into his title-winning consistency habit, but he had a lot of work to do to get there in Misano.

The way he executed his recovery was impressive, especially in Sunday’s race where he initially got shuffled out in the early laps and was down in 11th place at one stage, before coming back to second.

“It was a tough race for us and we really struggled with a few things inside of the car, generally all weekend but especially in this race,” said Dennis.

“I didn’t have great efficiency due to brake balance. If you’ve got a bad balance then it’s generally a long race ahead.”

Dennis looks like he’s getting stronger for a title defence, one of sport's toughest challenges. But he’s realistic enough to know that he and Andretti still have a lot to do.

“We have a lot of homework for us to do as a team, but I think on weekends like this it’s important you just get the points you can, whether that’s a fourth or a fifth or a second, then you take what you can.

“Overall leaving here I’m pretty pleased, just a lot of work to do still.”

Antonio Felix da Costa

Da Costa’s weekend. Bloody hell!

In a way it mirrored his last few weeks off the track. A roller-coaster of drama he mostly couldn’t control and although he came away with zilch to show for it points-wise, he was a moral winner in this one.

The one central player in all of this surreal madness was da Costa, and while all kinds of madness was going on around him, he was actually the coolest cat in town.

You can argue the details and merits of his and Porsche’s disqualification forever, but ultimately he was thrown out and got nothing for a well-executed 14th-to-top-stop performance on Saturday. It was a risky but brilliant win and there was simply cruelty in the fact that he lost it.

The Race witnessed dozens of other top team personnel making the journey to the back of the grid on Sunday to wish da Costa well, but a fairytale comeback didn’t happen despite him charging from last into the top 10 early on.

“It was an amazing race honestly, I think we were looking good for a top five there [before the incident that wrecked his race]," da Costa said. "I was already in front of Fenestraz and people like that who finished sixth and fifth.

“I was better on energy as well so yeah, it’s a shame coming from literally last on the grid. I was calm and collected and unfortunately that one time I couldn’t anticipate it and I hit (Bird).”

It was a costly mistake and it meant a trip to the pits before he ultimately parked it to get out of the way of the leaders.

Da Costa and Porsche also still have some work to do on qualifying, which will be crucial in Monaco.

Has it all changed for da Costa and silenced the doubts over his long-term future at Porsche? Probably not but in terms of being a moral winner at Misano last weekend and changing some of the more starkly black-and-white opinions of his craft within his own team, his all-round stature grew last weekend.

Nico Mueller/Abt Cupra

Mueller and Abt Cupra have been one of the genuine pleasant surprises of 2024 so far. A series of stellar performances that haven’t always been rewarded as they should have, but at Misano they finally were with seventh and a fourth place for the Swiss and a point for his team-mate Lucas di Grassi on Saturday.

To the team, after 18 months of toil and little to show for it, this felt like Christmas Day.

Abt is an organisation used to winning or at the very least fighting for it. That notion has been impossible since it re-entered Formula E at the start of 2023 because the Mahindra Gen3 car it invested in hasn’t been able to get beyond, at the very best, the top six mark.

Mueller led a chunk of Sunday’s race and was third into the final corner. The fact that Nick Cassidy pipped Mueller by 0.050s was pretty cruel but 12 points is hands down Abt Cupra’s best takeaway yet.

“They (Jaguar) were just that little bit better at the end,” Mueller told The Race afterwards.

“We know that we don’t have the efficiency that the Porsche or the Jags have, so to just even be up there and fighting for 26 laps has been pretty exciting and I had a lot of fun.”

Abt Cupra put together the perfect race for the package it had on Sunday, and apart from a torque cut out in his semi-final against Jean-Eric Vegne, there were no major issues all day. It was a competitive performance that didn’t owe to attrition or circumstance. It was there on merit.

“I think we’ve seen that we’ve kind of managed to improve the package overall, it’s not only the track, but here maybe it came to play a bit more,” added Mueller.

“I think our car likes when there’s high grip and there’s not too many bumps as well so maybe that helped a tiny bit.

“Generally, so far, what gives me a lot of hope for the future is that we’ve had three completely different tracks with Sao Paulo, Tokyo and this one and on one lap we’ve been competitive on all of them. Why not be competitive again at Monaco?”


The paddock's favourite but inconsistent giant-killers pulled off its own FA Cup 3rd round style shock in Misano with its best-ever points haul of 20 points and Dan Ticktum’s best-ever Formula E result on Saturday with fourth place.

“We’re the only team that did this save strategy at the start and the concertina effect into one, two and three and the chicane was massive,” Ticktum told The Race.

“We were really saving a lot and I think we took attack mode at the right time, the longer one, we got a few, pushed a bit earlier than some people and got some cheap overtakes done, five, six cars quite easily because they hadn’t started to push yet.

“Systems wise we made a few changes from Tokyo and on my driving, there was a couple of things I noticed that I wasn’t doing, OK it’s not going to make me finish at the front but I could have helped the efficiency with some things with my driving. We just put it all together really.”

Sergio Sette Camara topped it all off with a strong sixth on Sunday to make it the team’s best overall weekend for many seasons.

The Brazilian should arguably have got more decent points on Saturday but was pinged for a 50-second time penalty for overpower use during a thermal battery derate.

“Both drivers delivered an incredibly strategic and disciplined race,” said ERT’s deputy team principal, Russell O’Hagan.

“We were devastated with Sergio’s penalty but it’s a championship where you have to maximise everything within incredibly fine margins so from time to time you can fall foul of it.

“Overall, I am very proud of what we achieved collectively and the P4 is a great reward for everyone's hard work.”


Spark/Porsche/FIA/Formula E

Antonio Felix da Costa being kicked out of Saturday’s race left not only a bad taste in his mouth but collectively the whole championship.

The optics of it are awful.

The ingrained black-and-white rules approach most of motorsport feels outdated when incidents like this transpire. They are accepted because such an intricate sport needs robust regulations and limits, this is clear.

But just occasionally, when it is declared that there was zero performance advantage as was clearly stated by the stewards in this case, could some common sense with a fine and reprimand for the team not be administered?

The International Sporting Code said ‘no’. Therefore, the stewards had only one decision to make and to the outside world, it went down like a cold espresso.

No one came out of Saturday’s intricate disqualification well and it caused major conflict between the FIA and Porsche. Indeed, The Race witnessed two senior figures from each organisation engaged in an extraordinarily angry exchange on the grid immediately before the start yesterday. Bad blood flowed and likely still will for some time to come between the two.

Perversely, maybe da Costa himself did from a human level as externally he conducted himself in a manner in keeping with his reputation as an extremely decent human being.

Talking to The Race on Sunday evening about the noise regarding the carryover of ill feeling about his disqualification, da Costa said, “I think there were some conversations going on in the background but I made myself very clear that I did not want to get involved.”

Oliver Rowland/Nissan

He was quick for the vast majority of the weekend and the Nissan team did an excellent job on his strategy calls. What it didn’t do was handle a last-minute emergency on the grid yesterday. It triggered a series of events that rendered Rowland’s race essentially a fantasy with only one outcome. Energy exhaustion and retirement.

“To be honest it was a sequence of little coincidences, little things that happened that, in a way, made this mistake not obvious until the very end,” a crestfallen Tommaso Volpe told The Race.

“I know from the TV it seems like, ah they didn’t manage well, they made a mistake at the end with energy management, but it’s not this at all.

“We were surprised about the gap with Wehrlein, we were thinking we’d double check the data, two and three times, because we were like ‘are we OK’.

“The data told us we are OK, it’s going to be tight, he might attack us at the end, but we’ll be on the podium.”

The mistake it made in not setting its energy usage up correctly was nothing to do with Rowland himself, but in the purest and most unfortunate sense, he has to be a loser as well as a winner on this occasion, because within 1.2 miles of the chequered flag he was heading to Monaco as the clearest points leader yet so far this season.

Envision Racing

From a results standpoint, it's a case of how the once mighty have fallen for the reigning teams’ champions.

Collectively it has scored just four points from the last four races and is a whopping 89 points off manufacturer mothership Jaguar.

That is a disastrous first phase of the season for a team that won four races last season and its first-ever title.

The reasons for it are a combination of poor pace rendering them pretty much midfield-mire fodder, of which both Sebastien Buemi and Robin Frijns suffered with damage in the terrifying trenches of Misano combat last weekend.

But even before Misano, there were worrying signs in their general momentum and direction with sub-par performances.

The two Italian races should act as some kind of nadir-spur now, with Monaco being one of the tracks where it should be in genuine contention to get back to the top of the pile and defend former charge Nick Cassidy’s victory there last season.

NEOM McLaren

McLaren was an overall loser in Italy but in a very different way to Tokyo.

While Japan was a mix of tepid pace and a whopping operational mistake with Bird’s steering issue, Misano was several tales of missed opportunities via a quick car.

Jake Hughes was the absolute manifestation of this with scintillating pace not being executed sufficiently in the races. Still, his laps in Sunday’s qualifying period were sensational, particularly his quarter-final and final duel laps against DS Penske duo Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Eric Vergne.

The race was tricky though. He initially got a poor start but then squirted the throttle to get the lead back into T1. That set the scene for some energy loss.

“You’re going to be a little bit down on energy, even if you only lead two, three laps in this type of race, so I was expecting it,” Hughes told The Race.

When I first got the energy call it was only half a percent down, maybe one percent to the best car so that was quite good.

“But it’s so hard to make a plan and watch the race back and go ‘well that’s where I lost it or I did that wrong, let’s say’.

“But in my case I was ahead of Cassidy, I tried a move on Mueller, he put me on the grass, I lost two places, and in the same moment the race kicked off and went flat out.

“If that doesn’t happen, I could be standing here still in my race suit with the trophy. It’s just these small moments in these races.”

Hughes' fifth place on the road became eighth after a skirmish with Guenther saw him skate across the chicane run-off and pick up a five-second penalty for gaining an advantage.

“It’s one of these things; Max was derating as I understand it massively, and I was ahead before the braking, and Max I think just released the brake and I’m faced with a decision on whether to turn in, which I think would have caused a crash," Hughes explained.

“Or do I take the route through the gravel which is what I did.”

Sam Bird’s weekend was notable for some decent flashes of pace but ultimately several contacts while in battle brought a retirement on Saturday and then a contact and spin delayed 10th on Sunday.

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