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HomeClassic Car InvestFormula E: Rowland inherits victory after da Costa's disqualification

Formula E: Rowland inherits victory after da Costa’s disqualification

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Porsche racer Antonio Felix da Costa won the strategy-dominated first race of the Misano E-Prix, but a technical infringement saw the Portuguese lose his first victory with the German manufacturer, with Nissan driver Oliver Rowland inheriting the triumph in Italy.

At a circuit like Misano, energy was always set to be at the forefront of drivers’ and engineers’ minds with cars starting the encounter with between 60 and 70% of the usable energy needed to finish the race – the rest recovered by regenerative braking. The race lead is the least efficient place to be, with the car in P1 the first to punch a hole in the air and those behind profiting in terms of efficiency in the slipstream.

It was therefore no surprise to see drivers constantly change their positions at the front. Although pole-sitter Mitch Evans held on to his starting position at the start, Envision driver Sebastien Buemi took over the lead on the opening lap.

On lap 2, Pascal Wehrlein led the way, but his lead did not last long with Nick Cassidy jumping to the front on the next lap. With the Kiwi electing to take his first two-minute power boost on the same lap, he fell back to P3 which gave Jean-Eric Vergne the opportunity of taking over the lead.

Shortly afterwards, the two-time Formula E champion went through the attack zone which meant that he lost the lead to Wehrlein. Just a few corners later, Vergne collided with Cassidy with the incident forcing the Kiwi to pit for a new front wing. The Frenchman could carry on despite losing one of the endplates of his front wing.

Championship leader Wehlerin endured the same fate as he crashed into the back of Vergne’s car, losing his front wing. The German was forced to pit for a new wing which effectively meant the end of his race.

On Lap 10, the race has a new leader after Stoffel Vandoorne emerged at the front of the pack. However, he was unable to stay at the front for long and he found down in P7 just a lap later. It showed the way the first part of the race panned out with drivers desperately looking after their energy management.

Two laps later, McLaren driver Sam Bird led the way. His race engineer asked him to save energy, but the Briton was eager to stay at the front, claiming that he wanted to stay out of the ‘mess’. However, he was unable to check out and build up a gap to the chasing pack, and got involved in a clash. As a result, he suffered a puncture which forced him to pit.

In the second half of the race, it became apparent that Rowland, da Costa and Vergne had the best pace for the closing stages of the Misano E-Prix.

With eight laps remaining, da Costa inherited the lead again but Rowland wouldn’t lie down – the Nissan driver jumping the Porsche on Lap 23 for P1. From there, the race was a straight contest to the finish . On the outside of Turn 5, with three laps to go, da Costa swooped by Rowland for first while Jean-Eric Vergne (DS PENSKE), Dennis and Maximilan Guenther (Maserati MSG Racing) battled in behind.

For the closing stages of the race, da Costa and Rowland could make a break with the pair suddenly finding themselves 1.5 seconds clear. Although Rowland put da Costa under immense pressure, the Portuguese driver was able to hold on to clinch his first win of the season.

Vergne finished third, but he received a five-second penalty for his clash with Cassidy which saw him drop down the order to P8. It meant that Dennis inherited the last spot on the podium with Guenther, Ticktum, Evans, Sette Camara, Vergne, Nato and Vandoorne completing the top ten.ó

However, just a few hours after the race, the FIA noted that da Costa has been disqualified from the Misano E-Prix as “the throttle damper spring on Car #13 was not found in conformity with one of three optional declared items.”

As a result, the cars beneath da Costa in the original race classification move up a slot, meaning Nissan’s Oliver Rowland inherited the race win.

Speaking of the inaugural Misano E-Prix, race winner Rowland added: “We’ve had a strong start to the year and we maximized our performance again today. We expected a tricky race on a track that requires high efficiency, but the car was great, we managed the energy well and the strategy was spot on. We had to adapt during the race as it was a chaotic one.

“The start was fast and I dropped back a few places, but quickly re-gained them. We were in a strong position for the second half, and once we matched our energy target we pushed on. We’re very happy with P2 (P1 after da Costa’s disqualification) today, it’s amazing to be leading the championship but there’s a long way to go so our full focus is on tomorrow.”




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