In Berlin, Formula E experienced the best version of DS Techeetah’s Antonio Felix da Costa, who drove at an exceptional level to be crowned drivers' champion with two rounds still to be disputed.
The 28-year-old driver, with experience in championships such as GP3, DTM, and the FIA World Endurance Championship, has taken his first title in his sixth season in ABB Formula E. After five months without competition, Antonio Felix da Costa returned from the pandemic-enforced pause with an extraordinary level, dominating from start to finish in Germany and making us forget the struggles he experienced at the start of the season.
A complicated start
With just three points obtained in the frustrating first two rounds at Diriyah, Antonio Felix da Costa's first season as a driver for the DS Techeetah team did not start as the Portuguese would have wanted.
Da Costa had to fly to another continent, in this case the Americas, to demonstrate his supremacy and get to know his new car. The E-Prix’ of Santiago and Mexico City became the first indications of the da Costa who went on to become champion of Formula E for the first time. Incredibly, at both circuits his performances were similar: free practices promising, always getting into the top 10; acceptable qualifying, obtaining 10th position in both; and closing his racedays out with two good second places.
Championship fight ignites
Marrakesh can certainly be taken as the answer to why the DS Techeetah team signed him for this season. There, the Portuguese driver took pole position and then scored a great victory with more than 11 seconds of advantage over Maximilian Guenther - who proved to be a hard nut to crack for most of the race - and his teammate, reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne. This ignited da Costa’s championship fight, putting him into the lead of the drivers’ standings.
"I had to play a brave card, I had to let Max get super close there and I had to force him to use his energy," said the current champion after that race. He also anticipated what would later happen on German soil, stating that "we had a good plan in mind and amazing preparation, and we do a lot of hard work and it pays off." And it really did pay off.
Tempelhof: Confirmation and Consecration
The end of the season, currently being held at the old Tempelhof airport in Berlin, implies in every way an unprecedented challenge for the organisation, the drivers, teams, journalists and everyone who is part of ABB Formula E. Fans around the world eagerly awaited the resumption of a championship that, with six races in nine days, would be an exciting finale.
Anxiety for all, except for one. Antonio Felix da Costa not only returned at a higher level than everyone expected - if we take into account the 5-month hiatus that the championship was forced to carry out by the Coronavirus pandemic - but he also demonstrated extraordinary maturity and concentration in each instance of every round, making lockdown seem like nothing more than a little break.
Round 6 on Wednesday: Pole position, fastest lap and race won. Round 7 on Thursday? Pole position and race won. 58 points out of a possible 60, which allowed him to open up a 68 point lead from his closest (or not so close in this case) chasers, Lucas di Grassi and Stoffel Vandoorne.
For Round 8 on Saturday, the driver with the most votes in the Fanboost had the chance to get the fourth pole position in a row and set a new record in the category - he had already achieved the record in a single season, with consecutive poles in rounds five to seven. Unfortunately for Techeetah fans, the Portuguese driver qualified in 9th position. Despite this, he was solid and patient throughout the race, achieving a fourth place that slowly brought him closer to the title.
A champion is crowned
Today he performed at a very high level once again. The pole position this time went to Vergne, but da Costa qualified directly behind his teammate.
After brilliant teamwork during the race with the Frenchman - both drivers swapping positions when required and then swapping back - da Costa took second place at the end of the race. This allowed his teammate to take victory, while also clinching both the drivers’ title for da Costa and the teams’ title for DS Techeetah.
As the title says, the race for the title was a journey from frustration to elation for the driver born in Portugal’s Cascais municipality who, recharged with American air and boosted on African soil, has demonstrated on the Berlin asphalt why he is an undisputed champion - with 2 races still to go in the season.