Porsche’s bruised winner is still fighting a losing battle

Antonio Felix da Costa has dealt with a lot over the past nine months and learned a lot during that time as well.

Some adjustments, some mind games, some doubts and some pressures had to be addressed. And this is just from inside his Porsche Formula E team.

Beyond that, there was a win taken away from him, a potential loss of title contention at least as a result, and a potential reset of the direction of his Formula E career.

Despite da Costa's genius and openness, there is also grit and determination. He is often overlooked because of the way he acts as a human being. That's why his first thought when winning his second Berlin Grand Prix last weekend was to dedicate it to his engineer Marius Mayer-Diedrich's recently deceased father-in-law.

But underestimate this public decency at your own peril.

He's gone to some dark places before. All professional drivers have them. But how many people have faced public questioning like Da Costa during the season and then emerged victorious? Not that much really.

There was the insult, as The Race revealed last month, of Porsche testing Nico Muller. There were persistent questions about his qualification, with some justification, and a lack of positive sentiment towards him from some within Porsche.

Before that, there was a structural change in its activity for 2024 by reducing the World Endurance Championship programme. But he should be back in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) at least next year.

Antonio Felix da Costa, Porsche, wins in Berlin

“I've learned a lot about myself, and a lot about how to deal with these things this year,” da Costa told The Race as he walked from the Berlin media center back to the well-deserved praise of his team in the pits.

“I think that happened when I spoke to you in Riyadh and I was very honest and said, ‘Yes, I don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.’”

“That comment was taken so much out of context, like I was lost and giving up, and that's not really what I meant at the time. I like to be honest and I like to be fresh when I talk to you guys, and I continue to learn how to deal with different people and nationalities within The car and outside.

Antonio Felix da Costa, Porsche, wins in Berlin

This is an interesting comment. In addition to the difficulties in qualifying, the prevailing feeling around da Costa and Porsche is that there is a cultural impasse between the emotional Portuguese and the German management. He carries the truth within him, and team principal Florian Modlinger is honest in his assessment that he rarely, if ever, allows emotions to make key decisions.

This is likely the reason behind his decision to test his former DTM driver Muller in Spain, last March. Although the shocks of this were revealed to Da Costa.

“I've been through a lot and I'm happy to come back swinging in a lot of different ways,” Da Costa said.

“Honestly, if we take away the first three races of the year and count our win at Misano, I don't think I would be far behind the leader now. I just retired at Misano, and in all the other races I finished in the top six, all of them.

“If, if, then. It doesn't matter, but certainly when I start my year next year, I'll have different considerations about some things.

Other telling details are there. It is as if da Costa is already moving without explicitly saying so. Did the interrogation just upset him? It doesn't seem like it was, but he seems to have moved on emotionally and grown to accept that it wasn't meant to be a long relationship at Porsche.

On the other hand, from Porsche's side, not much has changed. The black and white of qualifying remains indelibly etched within the philosophy, even if qualifying often becomes meaningless in Formula E.

Antonio Felix da Costa, Porsche, Berlin Formula E

“he [da Costa] “It shows once again what we expect from him and what we know about his strength,” Formula E team principal Florian Modlinger told The Race after enjoying the win.

“He has unbelievable racing skills, he can do well in races like this and that I can only repeat; we know how hard he races, what passion he has for racing, how dedicated he is to this job, and how passionate he is.

“But we still need to arrange the playoffs.

Antonio Felix da Costa, Porsche, Berlin Formula E

He added: “You have to be consistent throughout the whole season, and you also need to perform qualifying. This is the thing that still needs to work on. This time [in Berlin] It was so close; Twice in fifth place in the group, but we need this little stretch to get to the duels and that has to be the goal.

“You come to London, you come to Tokyo, you come to Monaco and there you need to start being more attacking.”

The doubts raised around Da Costa that spread after Diriyah were not limited to the Porsche team. Beyond that they also extrapolated.

That must have been hard to deal with. And it was.

Antonio Felix da Costa, Porsche, Berlin Formula E

“I'm not going to lie, I don't know what word to use, but it wasn't nice,” Da Costa said. “Let's put it this way: The team comes together when times are tough, not when you're winning.

“It's easy when you win and that's what I would have liked to see a little bit more of, but that's the way it is, that's where we are, and man, we're in a world of sports where if you don't perform, things can change.

“Is it sweet? No, but it is what it is.


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