‘I still can’t believe it’: António Félix da Costa reflects on ‘tearful’ Cape Town win

António Félix da Costa may have put himself in to title contention, with the Portuguese driver having won the race of his life at the inaugural Cape Town E-Prix. His breathtaking victory at the fifth round of the 2022/23 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship was his first for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team, and one he will never forget.

Ahead of the race in South Africa nobody had really considered Da Costa as a possible contender for the win, given that he started the race in eleventh. His race pace, though, was clearly considerably better than his one lap performance, something which has become a trend for the Porsche drivers this season. Da Costa steadily worked his way through the field until he found himself sitting comfortably in fourth; however, fourth soon became third after Maximilian Günther hit a barrier at Turn One, resulting in the German retiring from the race.

Günther retiring on-track resulted in a sudden Full Course Yellow, which saw the front two try to activate their final Attack Mode. In doing so, Da Costa got ahead of Sacha Fenestraz and into second, before overtaking Nick Cassidy for the race lead with a spectacular move at Turn Eight. He later lost the lead, though, to Jean-Éric Vergne, after missing a detection zone when attempting to activate his second Attack Mode. It meant he lost the lead when he successfully activated it not long after, giving Vergne the advantage.

Da Costa was driving incredibly, though, and remained right behind Vergne as the race approached its close. He finally made his move at Turn Eight once again on the penultimate lap in what was one of the best overtakes in the history of the sport, before defending superbly to claim his first win of 2023 and his first for Porsche. The win has elevated Da Costa into title contention, with the former Champion having risen to fourth in the Drivers’ Championship following his victory.

Da Costa couldn’t “believe” that he actually won the race, with the Portuguese driver having been a “bit tearful” given how hard he’s worked since moving to Porsche.

“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.”

Collision with Buemi “was clearly my fault” – Pascal Wehrlein

For championship leader Pascal Wehrlein, it was a race to forget, after an uncharacteristic error saw the German crash into the back of Sébastian Buemi on the opening lap.

Wehrlein had been looking strong in Cape Town, with the Porsche driver having qualified sixth for the fifth race of the season. He made a clean getaway and settled quickly behind Buemi, before out-braking himself at Turn Ten, sending him into the back of Buemi. It was completely Wehrlein’s fault, something he immediately recognised, with the error having ended his race there and then.

His retirement marked the first time this season where Wehrlein hasn’t finished in the points; however, he maintained his eighteen point championship lead due to Jake Dennis having finished outside the points as well.

Reflecting on the race, Wehrlein admitted that “mistakes happen” and that he “couldn’t avoid the collision” with Buemi, which thankfully didn’t cost him too much in the standings.

“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.”

Credit: Sam Bagnall courtesy of FIA Formula E