A series of bizarre incidents inside Formula E champion Antonio Felix da Costa’s DS Techeetah cockpit led to the penalty that wrecked his Valencia race today.
Da Costa appears to have inadvertently knocked the attack mode activation on multiple occasions.
“When I got hit I guess I pressed my button somehow. We need some sort of protection there to avoid this” :: Antonio Felix da Costa
The issues appeared to consistently occur on the way into Turn 8 of the Circuit Ricardo Tormo and eventually led to him getting a drivethrough penalty that consigned him to a 22nd-place finish.
“I got hit a few times and it looks like I used my [attack mode] armings unintentionally,” da Costa told The Race.
“It was always in Turn 8. So many times the field was backing up and so many times I got hit and when I got hit I guess I pressed my button somehow.
“We need some sort of protection there to avoid this.
“Never had this before, and today… three times. So absolutely fucking unbelievable luck really.”
The DS Techeetah team suspects it was a one-off ergonomic issue related to how da Costa was moving in the car because of the Valencia layout.
Da Costa was making strong progress after starting from 12th place on the grid because he had made a slight error in the final sector during his group two qualifying effort.
— ABB FIA Formula E World Championship (@FIAFormulaE) April 25, 2021
He got as high as seventh place and was eyeing an attack on the leaders in the final laps when his penalty for incorrect use of the attack mode function was awarded.
His biggest contact came with Rene Rast and the pair both had trips through the gravel.
“We were looking good for a top six finish, so imagine how many points we should have got this week,” da Costa said.
Asked if he had noticed immediately each time he accidentally hit the attack mode arming button, da Costa said he was “not sure” but reckoned he spotted it and corrected his error “two of the times”.
He was also confused that his dashboard showed him he still had one attack mode to actually use but he couldn’t deploy it when he tried to.
“It was super weird,” da Costa added.
“I thought ‘OK I’ll go now’, and then it never worked, so I am not sure exactly what happened with the last one.
“When it’s not meant to be it’s not meant to be because it was a good race until then and I was up on energy on lots of them.”
The Race understands that the FIA was able to see that da Costa had armed his car for attack mode five times but only once when he had gone over the activation zone correctly.
The disappointment means that da Costa has taken just nine points from the last four races and is currently 33 points behind leader Nyck de Vries in his quest to retain his title.
DS Techeetah is continuing to investigate the precise reasons for the issues in today’s race.