Antonio Felix da Costa secured his second successive points finish for Team Aguri at the Punta del Este ePrix, finishing in sixth place, with teammate Nathanaël Berthon ending the race 14th. Felix da Costa said the result was beyond expectation.
Blue skies, warm sunshine and a refreshing sea breeze greeted the drivers as qualifying began, where Berthon went out in the first group. Short of mileage at the track thanks to mechanical issues in practice, he faced an uphill struggle. On his Punta del Este debut, the French pilot qualified 14th. Felix da Costa, running in group three, secured eighth place on the grid.
Antonio would suffer from being on the dirty side of the track at the start, and lost out to Bruno Senna on the run into turn one. He soon recovered the position and was able to stay on the tail of the leading pack for much of the first stint, passing Daniel Abt for seventh before the pit-stop. Straight after the mandatory car change, the Portuguese driver moved into sixth at the expense of Sam Bird. He held the position, unchallenged, until the chequered flag.
“This is probably where we should be expecting to finish. Perhaps we’ve even gone beyond our expectations,” admitted Felix da Costa. “We mixed it with new tech teams and were the strongest of the runners with the season one drivetrain, which is fantastic. I think we’re maximising our package; this track was always going to be difficult for us so I’m pleased with more points. We’ve now got a test day tomorrow, so hopefully we can find some more improvements and keep moving forwards, step-by-step.”
Unfortunately, Nathanaël’s bad luck continued in the race. After an encouraging start, Jean-Eric Vergne punted the #77 car into a spin. Whilst Berthon continued, his race was severely compromised and he finished in the same position as he’d qualified, an isolated 14th place.
“We had so many problems this weekend, from throttles, to batteries, to inverters. It was massively frustrating for all of us, but sometimes luck doesn’t go your way,” Berthon said. “Hopefully that will change soon. I’m convinced that we could have scored points in the race with a clean run, but I was pushed off by Vergne and that ruined it. I have some work to do on my driving style because Formula E is so specialised but, with more mileage, I’m convinced I can find big improvements. Tomorrow’s test is extremely important for all of us.”
The result, Team Aguri’s third points-scoring finish in as many races, moves the squad into sixth in the championship, with Antonio Felix da Costa ninth in the Drivers’ standings and Nathanaël Berthon 15th.
Looking back at the event Mark Preston, Team Principal, commented: “At the beginning of the year we said we’d like to be qualifying in the top 10, and finishing in the top six. Antonio achieved that today. To take points at a circuit that didn’t suit us so well is especially encouraging; the next race in Buenos Aires should be much better for us. Nat had a very difficult weekend, with bad luck from every direction and it’s hard to recover when you’re on the back foot from the off. Tomorrow we can focus on finding more improvements in testing.”
The next race sees the FIA Formula E Championship move to Buenos Aires, Argentina, on February 6.