Reigning champion Antonio Felix da Costa hasn't had it all his own way at the season-opening E-Prix Diriyah, with the competition more intense than ever and teams looking "super strong", he says, after introducing new gear for Formula E's first season as an FIA World Championship.
After a disappointing opening round of 2020/21 under the lights yesterday for the multiple championship-winning DS TECHEETAH and its reigning Drivers' champion, with Antonio Felix da Costa winding up in 11th and teammate Jean-Eric Vergne 15th, the Portuguese and DS had eyes on improvement ahead of Round 2.
They got their wish, to an extent, and having briefly topped Group 2 in Group Qualifying before NIO 333's Oliver Turvey came along, he shook out 10th with teammate Vergne improving on the Da Costa’s effort to go seventh.
With the squad running last year's car until Rome in April, Da Costa feels any progress will be constrained to damage limitation in Diriyah as other teams make their new machinery count.
“Last year we had a shocker of a weekend and left with three points in total,” said the 29-year-old. “We can’t let this affect us too much but we’re still here with last year’s car. It looks like everyone made a great step in performance but at the same time I made a small mistake in my lap and without that I could have been at the door of Super Pole, that’s in the back of my mind at the moment – kicking my brain.”
“Some others look super strong. Mercedes dominated yesterday with Venturi too and today we’ve seen Virgin looking good too, and the Dutchmen are really on it this weekend! We’ll try and salvage as much as we can and from Rome, we’ll have our new beast and start our championship there.”