To say it was a bittersweet weekend in the Formula E Diriyah E-Prix for DS Techeetah would be a bit of an understatement.
Whilst the strong pace which had been shown in testing had carried over to the circuit, it wasn’t all plain sailing.
Being in the first qualifying group was always going to be tough, especially on a track which had no grip offline and not much more on it.
Despite topping the group, Jean-Eric Vergne would be starting 11th whilst his new teammate, Antonio Felix Da Costa would be starting last.
The Portuguese driver explained: “Today was looking promising as we were quite fast in free practice, but as we were going into qualifying we had an issue in which I lost my brake-by-wire so I didn’t have any brake assistant and therefore had to do my flying lap straight away and qualified in the back as a result.”
Da Costa fought his way through the field to 14th whereas Vergne retired from the race.
The Frenchman was seen on the world TV feed trying to demonstrate the issue with the steering to the mechanics and said: “I made some nice progress from there but suffered a mechanical failure and had to retire the car as it wasn’t safe to drive anymore. It’s a shame but that’s racing, and we’ve got another day tomorrow.”
Saturday didn’t go totally to plan for Vergne either following an accident in practice which led to the battery being changed.
Vergne also had an interesting race and said: “The race was always going to extremely difficult today as I had a huge penalty placing me at the back of the grid plus a 10-seconds stop and go.
“Due to the safety car, I managed to join the pack and head up to eleventh place in the end. It was a lot of fun overtaking those guys and I had a great moment when I overtook two cars in one corner two laps in a row, so I had my fun but it’s not the positive I wanted to take from a weekend like this.”
Da Costa also had an interesting race following a contentious incident with Sebastien Buemi.
The Attack Mode activation was placed on the outside of Turn 19 and as Buemi slowed to try and activate his, Da Costa had nowhere to go and nudged the back of Buemi’s Nissan e.dams.
Regarding the incident, Da Costa said: “Unfortunately, I had a drive-through penalty for an incident early in the race that in my opinion was impossible to avoid.”
However, the Portuguese driver was optimistic about how the day had gone and added: “Even though we didn’t end where we wanted, there are a lot of positives from today. Being quickest in free practice, qualifying and working our way up the pack to second and fighting for the race win is a really good sign that we have good pace and an efficient powertrain.
“It also shows that we have a very good weapon to fight with this season.”