António Félix da Costa secured a solid third place finish on Saturday at the inaugural Portland E-Prix, where he found himself as the lead TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E Team driver.
Having gone six races without a podium, Da Costa returned to the rostrum at the Portland International Raceway, following an excellent performance. The Portuguese driver made it into the duels for the first time since São Paulo and started the twelfth round of the season from seventh, giving him a great chance of a strong result. His good qualifying meant he didn’t need to push overly hard to get amongst the frontrunners, with him having quickly made his way into the top three.
Da Costa actually went on to lead some of the race; however, he took the lead a “little too early” which caused a scare with his energy levels. He only just made it to the finish of the race, due to running very low on energy. As a result, there was nothing he could do about Nick Cassidy or Jake Dennis, with the latter having snatched second from him at the penultimate corner.
Regardless of dropping from first to third in the closing stages, Wehrlein was still “thrilled” to have finally returned to the podium.
“I’m thrilled with the podium. It was a great race with a great result. We fought hard but we possibly took the lead a little too early. As a result, it became a bit tight with the energy at the end. Still, we know what we have to improve on for the last four races of the season. We’ll continue to do our utmost to secure the title for Pascal and the team.”
“I could definitely have done more” – Pascal Wehrlein
For Pascal Wehrlein it was a race to forget, as the German once again lost the lead of the Drivers’ Championship. Wehrlein entered the weekend having reclaimed the lead of the championship in Jakarta; however, he dropped to second before the race even started.
Pole position for Dennis saw the Briton take the lead of the standings, due to the three points he was awarded for pole. Wehrlein had a disastrous qualifying and started the race from eighteenth, leaving him with a mountain to climb. Despite this, it was expected that he would progress into the points places, due to how good the Porsche powertrain typically is on energy.
Interestingly, Wehrlein failed to make as much progress towards the frontrunners as expected, as he could only salvage eighth. It almost seemed that the German perhaps played it safe, with him having admitted that he “could definitely have done more”. His disappointing afternoon on the West Coast meant he fell to third in the standings, where he now finds himself sixteen points behind Dennis.
Wehrlein labelled the race as “very strange” and once again admitted that his qualifying performance cost him in the race, an excuse which has been used several times already this season.
“That was a very strange race – so chaotic with so many cars wheel-to-wheel – we’ve never experienced that before this season. Everything was very close, especially in the second half of the race, and I kept losing places. I could definitely have done more today but being so far off in qualifying makes the race difficult.”