Antonio Felix da Costa admits he is feeling the pressure despite extending his lead at the top of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship with victory in Berlin.
Da Costa picked up where he left off last time out with a second victory straddled by 158 days as Formula E returned at a behind-closed-doors Berlin Tempelhof – opening a 41-point lead at the top in the process.
The Portuguese became the first driver to win a second race this season and, in the process, extended his lead in the Drivers’ Championship after the first of six races in nine days of the most intense season finale in motorsport history.
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TAG Heuer Porsche’s Andre Lotterer gave German fans something to cheer about at home with a second-place finish while Envision Virgin Racing’s Sam Bird also produced a masterful drive to take third place from seventh.
But the day belonged to Da Costa who cast his mind back to his previous few seasons in Formula E fighting in the middle of the pack before joining Team Champions DS TECHEETAH this season.
“I’m just so happy, I’ve been through some rough years and everyone, my team, family and friends are talking to me like there is just one race left but there are actually six races to go,” he said.
“Everyone is assuming that I have to win it and that is a lot of pressure but I take it well and if there is pressure it means there is something important so I just want to tell everyone that yes I want to win it but there is a long way to go, a really long way to go.
“The reason I moved here [TECHEETAH] in the first place is that I wanted a quicker car. Obviously this car is fast and I’m so grateful because I told myself after I knew that I was coming here that I really wanted my career from now onwards to be winning races, so I’m grateful that everything turned out great.”
Da Costa drove a serene drive from lights to flag having taken the Julius Baer Pole Position – he became the first driver to take the maximum 30 points this season – but the day fell apart for teammate and reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne.
TECHEETAH looked set for a one-two with just ten minutes to go during a quiet E-Prix, but things quickly went sour for Vergne who appeared to have an issue with his car, falling back from second place to eighth very quickly before being forced to pit after being hit by Lucas di Grassi.f
ATTACK MODE played its part in the race becoming a spectacle with Nyck de Vries of Mercedes-Benz EQ – racing in an all-black livery in an anti-racism statement by the team – using his to slip past Andre Lotterer to take third place.
But Lotterer soon righted his wrong in the dying moments, using his own ATTACK MODE to battle back into third place. Sam Bird came from nowhere to climb into second but with his energy suffering he had to concede the runner-up position to Lotterer.
Bird wasn’t the only one with energy issues as Da Costa was forced to cross the line coasting with no energy to spare but despite some hearts in mouths it came to nothing and the Portuguese looks the man to beat ahead of a second consecutive race tomorrow.
You can catch Round Seven of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship tomorrow on BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport Website and Eurosport 2 at 18:00 tomorrow August 6.