Formula E: Awesome Antonio scoops the jackpot in Monaco

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Antonio Felix da Costa led in the early stages in Monaco, but had to work extremely hard for his first win of the 2021 Formula E season. © Formula E Holdings

Reigning Formula E champion Antonio Felix da Costa claimed the top prize at the prestigious Monaco ePrix.

Round seven of the all-electric championship in season seven will go down as one of the all-time classics.

Portuguese racer da Costa snatched victory with a committed final lap overtake on Mitch Evans in his Jaguar.

It puts him firmly back into championship contention on a day which showed the best of the series.

Pole is the Best Place in Monte Carlo

In free practice, the Jaguar team looked to be the team to beat. However, they were unable to transfer that form into qualifying.

Evans slid his way to third place on the grid, whilst Sam Bird qualified down in the midfield.

Series leader Nyck de Vries also has a nightmare, ending up right at the back of the field.

On the streets of Monte Carlo, pole position is always the best place to start.

It increases your probability of scooping the jackpot. Da Costa delivered to take pole ahead of Robin Frijns, Evans and Jean-Eric Vergne.

Brits out of Luck

On a beautiful day in the Mediterranean and infront of a socially distanced crowd in some areas, this would be a landmark event.

For the first time in Formula E history, the full Monaco Grand Prix layout was being used.

The previous three versions here have been run on a much shorter layout.

Da Costa converted his pole position into an instant lead at the start with no changes in the top six.

As anticipated, not everyone got through the first circuit unscathed.

Contact always looked inevitable down the field. The first casualty of the day was Brit Alexander Sims.

He was hit on three separate occasions at the Loews hairpin. With severe damage to his Mahindra Racing bodywork, he stopped in the pits.

Valencia ePrix race winner Jake Dennis also suffered a momentary loss of power in the same traffic jam. He was consigned to a race with the backmarkers.

Frijns looked lively early on and on the fourth circuit, stole the lead from da Costa with a textbook overtake into Sainte Devote.

This move began a race of constant lead swapping between the pair in a race where overtaking did become a genuine possibility.

Lead swapping

As ever, each driver in Formula E has to use two attack modes during an ePrix or face a post-race penalty.

Attack mode is a strategical tool which is a slightly different concept to DRS in Formula One.

The placement of the zone on the exit of Casino Square proved to be a masterstroke.

It meant a lot of position changing down the field and lead swapping between the leaders.

Frijns and da Costa took their opportunities with more power to head the ePrix.

One of da Costa’s opportune moments came when teammate Vergne and Evans went side-by-side through the Nouvelle Chicane.

As they watched each other, da Costa took full advantage to gain back the two positions he’d briefly lost whilst going through the attack mode zone.

With 15 minutes left of the ePrix, the defending champion went to make his decisive manoeuvre.

Sensibly, he’d saved the Fanboost he’d won from the Formula E fans for a critical overtake.

He soared past Frijns to reclaim the lead and it was the last time the Dutchman would hold the advantage.

However, there was a sudden new challenger to the lead battle.

Marvellous Mitch

Mitch Evans raced well but was denied a prestigious victory on the last lap as he struggled with energy management. © Motorsport Images

Third-placed Evans had taken an attack mode and with more power, charged ahead of Frijns on the start-finish straight.

He then got a brilliant exit out of Sainte Devote, pulled alongside da Costa and completed a marvellous move up the hill towards Massenet.

The Kiwi had taken a major gamble and he had been rewarded fully for his bravery.

Moments later, the Safety Car made its only appearance in the race.

The Audi of Rene Rast was left stranded halfway up the hill from the first corner.

Rast, a former double winner of the Porsche Supercup event here, ran out of luck at Sainte Devote.

He under-steered into the barrier whilst racing for seventh place with Nick Cassidy.

Therefore, it was another frustrating afternoon for Audi.

Again, they left an event empty-handed despite having plenty of early promise.

Da Costa makes his move

When the Safety Car came in, there was enough time for five more racing laps.

Knowing he was borderline with energy management, Evans turned defensive, desperate to keep his lead.

He made his Jaguar the widest Formula E car around. Ultimately, his defences were breached on the final tour.

With the field bunched up behind him, da Costa made his move. He left his braking as late as possible but made a clean overtake on Evans at the chicane.

It meant he went through the remaining corners unchallenged to claim his first-ever win around the principality and first of his season.

Evans also lost second place. As he had to get off the throttle to conserve energy, Frijns was able to pip him by just a few hundredths of a second to the runners-up position.

Vergne put in a late charge to finish fourth with Maximilian Guenther and Oliver Rowland completing the top six.

Bird did well to recover from his lacklustre qualifying, finishing seventh. Cassidy, Andre Lotterer and Alex Lynn completed the point scorers.

It was an awful weekend for team leader Mercedes. Neither de Vries, nor Stoffel Vandoorne finished the ePrix with technical gremlins.

Formula E the ultimate winner

The top seven now in the drivers’ championship are split by just 16 points.

Frijns is now heading a Dutch 1-2 in the standings, five points clear of de Vries.

Da Costa’s stunning victory seems him storm right back into championship contention.

He was 14th going into the event but is now fourth and just 10 points off top spot.

Despite a second successive no-score, Mercedes hang onto top spot in the teams’ standings. Their lead though has been slashed to just two over Jaguar.

A 41-point haul for DS Techeetah – their best of the season sees them move into third place.

Da Costa is bound to savour the glory of his Monaco win. Above all, Formula E was the big winner.

After the farce of Valencia and the energy chaos of round five, round seven has to rank among one of the finest races in the series’ history.

In addition, it leaves the race for the championship wide open ahead of a double-header in Mexico next month.

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