António Félix da Costa: Red Bull’s rising star
24 October 2012 – A young man from Portugal has emerged as one of motorsport’s most exciting talents this season. Although his name was already known by many throughout feeder ranks, stunning performances in both GP3 and the ultra-competitive Formula Renault 3.5 championship proved his ability to compete against the world's finest up and coming drivers. This is of course Red Bull Junior driver António Félix da Costa.
The 21-year-old, who claimed a trio of GP3 wins for Carlin during his primary 2012 campaign, was drafted in to replace Lewis Williamson from the fourth World Series round in June. Competing for Arden Caterham, ten points finishes from a possible 12 followed, including a spectacular run of four victories from the final five races.
"Thanks a lot," Félix da Costa says when GPUpdate.net congratulates him. "It was an amazing way to finish. Winning both races in Barcelona in such a competitive championship makes me feel really happy for myself and for the team. In this case I showed everybody what we can do. But again, this is a job that me and Arden Caterham did together and the results are the consequence of all the hard work."
So impressive was Félix da Costa’s World Series birth, his average points total per race levelled out at 13.83. Compared to newly-crowned Champion Robin Frijns, whose total stands at just over 11, it’s a margin that proves the title was there for the taking if he had been fighting for it from the very beginning. This statistic was obviously positive news, but he remains completely grounded about what might lie ahead.
"It feels really good to know that," he comments, having missed out on a potential 125 points, "but 2013 is another season and we will all start from zero, so if we repeat the World Series then we will have to work hard again from the beginning. Hard work is the key for success, especially in such a competitive championship like this."
Although a second year in Formula Renault 3.5 "would make sense" for the man from Lisbon, his Formula 1 duties are fast-increasing. He will be taking part in a two-day test for Red Bull in Abu Dhabi next month, an outing which he believes will be crucial in the team's bid to defend both world titles.
"I’m really looking forward to it," he says. "It is the World Champion’s car and shows the confidence that Red Bull is putting in me. Two days in F1 is always amazing, but in the Red Bull it is a dream come true.
"On the other hand, I am there to work on a specific programme and not really look at lap times. We have a plan to complete and my job is to give the best feedback I can in order to improve as much as possible. I must work hard and do a really good job, not just for my career but also to help Red Bull over these final few races. This test is really important to get the Constructors’ and Drivers’ championships."
With track time so limited outside of this test, it is important to look at what might be on the cards in 2013. All mileage is of massive benefit in modern day Formula 1, so could Friday practice runs be possible with junior outfit Toro Rosso?
"In life everything is possible, but this is something that is not up to me to decide," he replies in an honest manner. "My job is to drive my best in the championship that Red Bull decides. If they put me in Friday practice I must do a good job there, but at the moment I am thinking about doing the best possible job in Abu Dhabi and then at the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix."
The last time a Portuguese driver lined up on the Formula 1 grid was at the Brazilian Grand Prix of 2006, when Tiago Monteiro contested his final race for Spyker. However, if Félix da Costa’s results over the past six months are anything to go by, his nation’s patient wait for a new Grand Prix star could come to an end sooner rather than later.