After a rollercoaster weekend for DS TECHEETAH in New York City, it was an emotional Antonio Felix da Costa that secured the team's first victory this season with a convincing win in Round 12 from Julius Baer Pole Position. As for his teammate and title contender Jean-Eric Vergne, the Frenchman left the Big Apple point-less after two disappointing races, hampering his charge for a third title. Still, with four races left, the team insist Vergne is still in the fight.
HIGHLIGHTS: Catch up with the New York City E-Prix Round 12
"I love it," exclaimed Antonio Felix da Costa, dripping in Moet & Chandon and clearly emotional after securing his and DS TECHEETAH's long-overdue first win of the season. "New York is a little bit like our Monaco - it's such an incredible city. I finished second and third here in the past and to win this one today, it's amazing - especially from where we're coming from, after such a tough start to the season."
With two ABB FIA Formula E World Champions on its books, 15 wins and 43 podiums, DS TECHEETAH is one of the most successful teams in the series' history. Despite that, it's had its challenges this season, failing to clinch that much-needed win, until now.
"It's a very special moment," said Thomas Chevaucher, Team Principal & DS Performance Director. "It has been a very long time since our last victory, last year in Monaco. The team absolutely needed it. So we are very happy about that and really looking forward to the rest of the season. I think we are really back now," he insisted.
A surprise penalty for the fastest driver in qualifying, Envision Racing's Nick Cassidy, saw da Costa inherit P1 on the grid for the final race in New York, the Portuguese driver pulled away at the front and held off any challenges from Mercedes-EQ's Stoffel Vandoorne to take the win in Brooklyn.
"I love this struggle. I love to keep proving everyone wrong and to work with my guys and keep on improving and finding ourselves getting better, so here we are standing as a winner again this season - it's amazing.
"I had to work very hard. The guys behind me were keeping me honest the whole way. It's been such a strange and difficult start to the year for me.
"Today it feels like we did another small step and could hold out at the front, which is good. We had a slow start to the year but now it's all about enjoying it - there's no pressure really until the end and we'll try and get a few more of these," said da Costa, gripping his trophy tightly.
While da Costa was busy celebrating and spraying the champagne, his teammate on the other side of the garage was counting the cost of a dismal weekend on his third championship campaign. As Formula E's only two-time champion, Vergne has long had a penchant for winning, as well as chasing top spot in the standings and this season is no different.
Dropping to fourth in the Drivers' World Championship after a point-less weekend in New York, Vergne is still the only driver in the top four to have not won a race this season - testament to his ruthless point-scoring consistency. Despite having now broken his point-scoring run with an 18th in Round 11 and a DNF in Round 12, his team insist he's still in the title fight.
"JEV is still in fight," said Chevaucher, earnestly. "He had a difficult weekend but he came back from 18th to 10th, fighting for the points before being hit [in Round 12]. He's definitely in the fight. He has not scored points this weekend, but we have still four races to go and he's definitely in the fight for the title."
With two double-headers in London and Seoul to go, Vergne sits 28 points behind standings leader Stoffel Vandoorne and 11 points off his closest rival Mitch Evans (Jaguar TCS Racing) in third. To do that, the Frenchman will need to summon all his strength and make the last four races count - there are still plenty of points on the table but the three drivers around him in the hunt have scarcely missed a beat in Season 8.
Although he's already a Formula E record holder with two titles, Vergne will be feverishly hunting a third until the final chequered flag falls on 2021/22 in Seoul.