Inaugural Ad Diriyah E-Prix winner Antonio Felix da Costa admits he was surprised by the pace of BMW rival Techeetah during the 2018/19 Formula E season-opener.

da Costa converted his maiden FE pole position into his first victory in nearly four years to earn BMW a win on its debut as a full works squad following its collaboration with the Andretti Autosport outfit.

But da Costa’s drive to victory was far from straightforward, as reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne turned in a strong recovery from a drive-through penalty for a battery management-related infringement to cross the line less than half a second behind the BMW man. 

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Vergne’s teammate Andre Lotterer was also handed a drive-through for the same offence and still managed to take fifth. Following his win, the Portuguese driver and early 2018/19 championship leader stressed that his team - which set the pace in pre-season testing - still has work to do. 

“I’ve had two really hard years to be honest - you know how it is, this motor sport world - people forget quickly and you’re only as good as your last race,” da Costa said. 

“The fight I had with these guys, I saw them coming, I thought they must be on some kind of Attack Mode but it was just pure pace. 

“I was ready to give up in terms of let’s take a podium home and not try and risk everything to fight these guys, but that was when I heard they have a drive through so I paced myself. 

"For sure we have some work to do because Jev [Jean-Eric Vergne] was flying. But, this is racing and we played our cards right and did everything right and took the win.”

BMW Andretti team principal Roger Griffiths also noted the impressive performance of the Techeetah duo and is expecting further performance gains to be unlocked by teams in software development. 

“We were challenged by both of the Techeetah cars and they were very strong,” he added. 

“I think that could well be a theme going through the year but it’s great to get our first win under the belt and the first win of the partnership with BMW. 

“We know Jev from season one and we know what he’s capable of. He’s obviously one of the best drivers on the grid here and he’s very determined and a tough guy to race against.

“The development of the car is pretty fixed but there’s always opportunities within software development and I think that’s where it’s going to come, they are just stretching the surface with where teams are getting started.”

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