Contenders falter as da Costa nabs another win in Portland

Antonio Felix da Costa won for the third time in four races in the first part of the Portland E-Prix as Formula E’s key championship protagonists all faltered.

Mitch Evans was the winner on the road, but a 5s penalty after a collision with NEOM McLaren’s Jake Hughes on lap five dropped him down to eighth. The coming together left Evans with front wing damage and Hughes with a right rear puncture that ended any hope of him challenging for victory.

Evans slammed the penalty as “absolutely disgraceful,” with him insisting that Hughes moved across on him as he held position.

It looked as if Evans’ Jaguar TCS Racing teammate Nick Cassidy was going to be the victor, having taken the approach that paid off in Berlin by conserving energy within the pack before vaulting forward. Having been as low as 12th, it took him just 12 laps to get to the front and was leading on the penultimate lap of the 27 lap race when he lost control through Turn 11, spinning out and handing the advantage to Evans and da Costa.


Polesitter Evans lost the lead early on to Hughes, then kept da Costa and Cassidy in his crosshairs as they swapped the lead after cycling through Attack Mode activations. He got by da Costa on lap 24, and was given the green light to race Cassidy despite his penalty, and it was that pressure that led to Cassidy’s mistake that cost him the win.

With Cassidy and Evans both missing out on the win, it would have been a perfect time for Porsche’s Pascal Wehrlein to pounce and make up ground in the championship race, but after a quiet day, in which he was the last to drop into the Attack Mode activation zone, he could only finish 10th.

Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the bad day for the championship frontrunners was Oliver Rowland, who wasn’t even racing due to illness.

With Cassidy’s non-score and Evans’ and Wehrlein’s lowly points finishes, he hasn’t lost as much to his rivals as he ought to have. Wehrlein’s finishing position could yet drop lower with his race ending under investigation for a collision with Maserati MSG driver Maximilian Guenther.

Robin Frijns was classified second, giving him his first podium since February’s Diriyah E-Prix, with Jean-Eric Vergne third, having shot to the lead on lap 17 after climbing from the seventh row of the grid.

Edoardo Mortara took Mahindra’s best result of the season in fourth, ahead of Abt Cupra’s Nico Mueller and Jake Dennis (Andretti).

Sam Bird was seventh for McLaren, ahead of the penalized Evans, with Stoffel Vandoorne ninth, joining his DS Penske teammate Vergne in converting a poor qualifying performance into a points finish.

Da Costa ends the day as the first three-time winner of the year – an accolade he would have already had were it not for his disqualification in Misano in April – but it’s too little too late with regard to his championship hopes after a poor start to the campaign.

Cassidy maintains the championship lead, albeit with the gap over Wehrlein now at 24 points with three races to go. Evans is a further three points back, with the absent Rowland still remaining in mathematical contention with 131 points.


Story originally appeared on Racer