Antonio Felix Da Costa has moved a significant step towards the 2019/20 FIA Formula E Championship title with a convincing lights-to-flag victory in the first of six Berlin ePrix races that will complete the season.

With the quickfire run of races – completed on different configurations of the Tempelhof Airport circuit in Berlin over the next seven days - implemented in lieu of rearranging events cancelled by the coronavirus crisis, Da Costa picked up from where he left off to extend his series lead on a day his main rivals struggled.

Starting from pole position in an all-DS Techeetah front row with Jean-Eric Vergne, a rapid getaway and swift progress over the opening laps allowed both drivers to establish an advantage over Andre Lotterer behind them.

However, after seeing their margin eroded by a safety car necessitated by Robin Frijns damaged and parked Virgin car, the race was threatened to turn on its head for Da Costa when another full course yellow with less than 10mins remaining to shift Felipe Massa’s stricken car shook things up.

Nonetheless, the Portuguese driver kept his cool, helped in part by Vergne’s move to take attack mode just before the full course yellow being undone when it left him unable to use his power boost.

As such, though Da Costa and Vergne almost came to blows on the restart as the former used his attack mode and just stayed ahead, it was as close as his rivals would get.

Even so, Da Costa’s sheer pace did make things difficult for himself and others when he crossed the line just before the time ran out, meaning they had two laps left to run with charge running perilously low. Nonetheless, despite dropping to 0%, he was able to coast across the line.

With Vergne left exposed with no attack mode and a group of drivers behind, he plummeted down the order late on, seemingly pulling into the pits to retire having dropped outside the top ten with a lap to go.

Instead, Andre Lotterer snatched second place having yo-yo’d up and down the order initially, his method of conserving energy early on allowing the Porsche driver to get back past Sam Bird in the closing stages.

Mercedes EQ’s Nyck de Vries was another forced to hold back in the mid portion of the race before bringing it home in fourth, just ahead of Jerome d’Ambrosio, Stoffel Vandoorne and Sebastien Buemi.

With Da Costa – who already had a 15 point advantage at the head of the standings – coming away with a 29 point haul, it was an otherwise dismal day for his title rivals.

His erstwhile closest rival Mitch Evans made progress from a poor starting position initially, but after being mugged by d’Ambrosio late on in the fight for sixth, his slower entry into the following corner resulted in him being bumped and turned into a spin by BMW’s Maximilian Gunther.

Gunther, another title contender, recovered for eighth but already faces an investigation for clipping Frijns into a retirement earlier in the race. Lucas di Grassi and Alex Sims – also in the title fight – could only manage ninth and tenth respectively.

 

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