Félix Da Costa takes podium finish in Sanya to recapture championship lead

by Nathan Hine
Antonio Felix Da Costa - BMW I-Andretti Motorsport - Sanya ePrix

After banking another solid points haul with well-earned third-placed finish at the inaugural Sanya ePrix, Antonio Félix Da Costa has moved back to the top of the championship by a single point over Mahindra Racing driver Jerome D’ Ambrosio.

Meanwhile, his team-mate Alexander Sims retired after a race-ending crash while running in the top five in what was a mixed day for BMW i-Andretti Motorsport.

Despite starting in the slower first qualifying group of the day, Félix Da Costa was able to get into Super Pole and put himself a superb third on the grid while his title rivals, Sam Bird and Jerome D’ Ambrosio started from seventeenth and eighth respectively.

This presented a big opportunity for Félix Da Costa to recapture the series lead and with rookie Oliver Rowland and defending champion Jean-Eric Vergne dicing for the lead for the most part, Félix Da Costa managed to claim the final podium place and recapture the series lead by leaving Sanya on 62 points.

Although, it wasn’t without damage as the Portuguese racer attempted a late braking manoeuvre on Rowland after Vergne passed the English rookie, but the pair made contact as a result. Da Costa was more circumspect after that and brought the car home for well-earned points.

“It goes without saying I am pleased with the result, the points and the lead in the driver standings.” said Félix da Costa. “But I’m a little frustrated too, if I’m being honest, because I wanted to do even better today.

“I was able to keep up with the two guys in front of me with no problems and think that I could have won. But the track here is very narrow and you have to take a lot of risks to overtake.

“I tried once, but then decided to take the important points for third place. I think this is the way we need to act if we want to stay at the top until the end of the season.”

Things didn’t go quite so well for his team-mate Alexander Sims who after running the majority of the race in the top five, ran wide out of turn five in his head-to-head battle with DS Techeetah driver Andre Lotterer only to make contact the wall at turn six to mark another pointless finish for the Englishman.

So despite showing great pace throughout the season, Sims is only 14th in the championship classification. After another disappointing race in Sanya.

“It’s difficult to accept this disappointing end to the race” said Sims. “Our pace was good and qualifying went really well as well. António is a superb benchmark for me, so I was delighted to be able to keep up with his lap times.

“Then the race went okay. It was difficult to overtake. Then the racing started. I defended my line against Lotterer, and I feel he didn’t leave me enough space. It’s a real shame that our pace and efforts went unrewarded.”   

BMW i-Andretti Motorsport are fifth in the championship on 80-points, just 17-points off of joint points leaders Envision Virgin and Mahindra Racing, and with the margins so tight in Formula E, every mistake counts.

The team will be determined to eliminate any errors heading into the European leg of the series when racing action resumes for the 2019 Rome ePrix on 13 April.

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