Formula E: Antonio Felix da Costa wins after chaotic conclusion in Buenos Aires (VIDEO)


As if somebody had walked into a room and flipped the light switch, today’s FIA Formula E race in Buenos Aires went from calm to crazy.

Let’s count the ways this 35-lapper descended into madness.

1) Pole sitter Sebastien Buemi ran up front all day on the streets of the Puerto Madero district until Lap 23. Going into a chicane that had been the site of an earlier crash involving Karun Chandhok, Buemi appears to clip the inside wall and then runs over the curbing. This breaks his suspension and ends his race.

2) Buemi’s incident hands the lead to championship leader Lucas di Grassi, who had been 3-for-3 in podium finishes this season.

It looks like he’s in position for his second win of the 2014-15 campaign, but on Lap 27, he crashes in the same chicane that got Buemi and Chandhok.

3) Now it’s Nick Heidfeld’s turn in the lead for the Venturi team. In September’s season opener at Beijing, Heidfeld battled for the lead on the final lap before contact with Nicolas Prost had him launched airborne over a curb and into a barrier. So does fate smile upon him here?

Nope. With three laps to go, race stewards tagged him for speeding in pit lane and had him come in to serve a drive-through penalty.

That left Antonio Felix da Costa as the new leader, but while the drivers behind him got pushy in their final battles for position, he managed to bring home his Amlin Aguri machine and win over Prost and third-place finisher Nelson Piquet Jr.

“I knew we had the pace,” da Costa said. “I had some issues in qualifying, so I’m really happy we managed to get through the field. I kept a bit of energy to be able to attack Heidfeld in the end but then it wasn’t necessary after he got a penalty…We have to keep working hard to continue like that.”

While da Costa celebrates, the F-E championships have been impacted as the series takes a two-month break before returning to action on March 14 in Miami.

Di Grassi’s 18-point lead in the driver’s race has been chopped to 10 over Putrajaya race winner Sam Bird, who finished seventh in today’s event. Buemi has slipped to third in the standings, down 15 points.

But despite Buemi’s DNF, Prost’s runner-up performance kept e.dams-Renault atop the team championship by an 11-point gap over Bird’s Virgin Racing outfit.

Bird’s teammate, Jaime Alguersuari, survived multiple run-ins with competitors in the last few laps to finish fourth today. Bruno Senna rounded out the Top 5 finishers.

As for American driver Marco Andretti, his F-E debut didn’t go as well as he would have liked. The IndyCar veteran finished 13th for the Andretti team.

He tweeted after the race that during a caution at the mid-way point, he had been held behind the safety car for an unspecified reason. According to him, that put him one lap down before overheating issues hurt his car later on.

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.