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Why Antonio Felix da Costa is the most significant summer signing

Antonio Felix da Costa (PRT), DS Techeetah, DS E-Tense FE20

If you’re a driver in Formula E, the team to be with at the moment is DS Techeetah. A double world championship winning team, current team of two time world champion Jean- Eric Vergne and now the new home for Antonio Felix da Costa.

Having raced in the all electric series for five seasons now, this move will give Da Costa his best chance in proving himself by being able to challenge the best driver in Formula E at the moment; Jean-Eric Vergne. 

The move to DS Techeetah could not have come at a better time for Da Costa. Season five saw him secure his highest finish in the drivers championship with sixth place.

The 28 year old finished on the podium four times last season, including taking victory in the opening race in Saudi Arabia. If his form continues into season six then Da Costa will have a great opportunity to create an intense battle with Vergne for the championship. 

Going back to Techeetah will almost feel like a homecoming for the Portuguese driver. In the inaugural season of Formula E Da Costa was competing for the squad under it’s previous guise as Team Aguri, under team principal Mark Preston, and they won the 2015 Buenos Aires E-Prix together. When DS Techeetah took over Team Aguri for the start of season three Preston remained Team Principal and will be re-uniting with Da Costa once again in the upcoming season.

This season will be crucial for Da Costa to prove himself. Da Costa and Vergne have both been in Formula E since the first season in 2014, despite having the same amount of experience you would say Vergne has had a more successful journey so far with two driver’s titles under his belt. 

In all five seasons Da Costa has only ever had two teammates who have been in their seat consistent throughout the duration of a season; Robin Frijns in season 3 and Alex Sims in season five.

Last season Da Costa managed to finish above Sims, who placed 13th in the championship. However, in season three Frijns’ was 13th, whilst Da Costa finished a lowly 20th after scoring points just once in the opening round in Hong Kong. The Portuguese driver is seen as one of the top Formula E drivers, but this opportunity for Da Costa is the perfect chance to prove himself against Vergne who as the two-times reigning champion is currently the man to beat.

If he can succeed, he will be able to back up the claim that he is one of the best drivers on the grid, especially against a driver who has the same amount of experience and on the same machinery.

Da Costa signing for Techeetah was not the only big eye-catching driver signing take take place over the summer. Andre Lotterer moved to Porsche from Techeetah, Nyck de Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne were announced as the Mercedes driver line up and Brendon Hartley joined the series by signing for Dragon racing.

But when you analyse these signings closer you can see why there is more significance surrounding Da Costa. Lotterer moved to Porsche from Techeetah so despite joining an iconic and well-known manufacturer, it is their first season in Formula E, and as such they’re unlikely to be challenging for the title.

Another contributing factor comes from the fact that Lotterer spent two seasons with a championship-winning car in which he failed to win a race, despite scoring four podium finishes, whilst his teammate Vergne won seven races in the same period, and was only beaten by the German in four rounds out of the twenty five they spent together as teammates, so Lotterer is not moving to Porsche with his stock as high as it could be.

Brendon Hartley’s arrival into the series brings with it a fairly well-established name in the world of motorsport; he is after all a double FIA WEC World champion and former Formula One driver. However, season six will be his rookie season in Formula E driving for a team with uncompetitive results in the previous season, and no links to any OEM manufacturer, so there is a lower likelihood of a title challenge from him.

Nyck de Vries is probably the one signing that you could argue to be the more significant than Da Costa. He is the reigning Formula 2 champion, and will be racing for Mercedes in Formula E, which is a big statement given that Formula 2 is a feeder series for Formula One.

The reason Da Costa is more significant comes from the fact he has proved to be an all rounder from competing and winning in a number of different series; he is a proven multiple race-winner in Formula E and is moving to the team that is the most in-form at the moment. So everything is in place for the popular Portuguese driver to succeed this season.

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