Future Stars – António Félix da Costa

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First it was Sebastian Vettel and now numerous drivers are emerging from the Red Bull Junior Team. This particular driver is casting a formidable shadow over the careers of Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne should they not perform sufficiently in 2013.

He first came to global prominence back in 2010 competing in the Formula 3 Euro Series. In Félix da Costa’s début race he scored a point – an impressive feat achieved by few in the series’ history. Four podiums later (three of which were wins), the Portuguese star finished the highest placed rookie.

That same year he completed the season with the first Portuguese victory in the Macau Grand Prix  in 58 years, leading every racing lap of the meeting en route to victory.

Force India capitalised on his success, making him their test driver for that year. Despite his young age and relative inexperience, he had been introduced to the pinnacle of Motorsport – Formula 1 itself.

After competing in the GP2 Final and GP3 series later, Félix da Costa proved himself to be a reliable driver – only car failures forced the youngster to stop competing. Indeed, during the GP2 series at Monza in 2011, the Status Grand Prix driver was able to capitalise on the failings of two of his peers – James Calado and Mitch Evans. 

When in 2012, Félix da Costa signed with Arden Caterham in the Renault 3.5 series, I was initially concerned. This team over the past few years has not capitalised on its connections to the Formula 1 outfit and has instead only enjoyed inconsistent success. That year, he caught my attention as being one to watch by finishing fourth overall. Only eventual winner (and fellow Future Robin Frijns) was a higher placed rookie.

These performances didn’t go unnoticed. That year Red Bull made him their test driver; his connections to the Austrian outfit became more prominent. At the young driver test, their latest prodigy was given the opportunity to drive. By day two he had recorded the second fastest time by over half a second. Impressive stuff! In fact, he beat the time set by Force India’s Paul Di Resta around that same circuit in Abu Dhabi.

In 2013, Félix da Costa will rejoin Arden. With Frijns now the reserve driver at Sauber and with a new wave of confidence, I am expecting great things. Watch out Vergne and Ricciardo, this year could not only decide your future but his as well!

 

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