da Costa prime candidate for Toro Rosso seat

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Scuderia Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost believes that Red Bull youngster Antonio Felix da Costa is well-placed to join the team next season should current driver Daniel Ricciardo make the move to the world champions.

Following Mark Webber’s confirmation that he will be retiring at the end of the season, Red Bull have been assessing their options and have narrowed the shortlist down to Ricciardo and Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen. Ricciardo undertook a test for the team at Silverstone, putting himself in a good position to join Sebastian Vettel in 2014, but Tost has a plan in place should his driver leave.

“Antonio Felix da Costa is one of the candidates, but let’s wait for the decision of Red Bull and, if they take Daniel, we assess who will be the choice for our second seat,” Tost explained to Brazilian website totalrace.com.br.

This would see da Costa join Jean-Éric Vergne at the Italian team next season after Christian Horner confirmed that the Frenchman was no longer a consideration for Webber’s seat.

da Costa’s junior career has been highly impressive, finishing third in the GP3 championship last season as well winning the prestigious Macau Grand Prix. Like Ricciardo, he undertook some running for Red Bull at the Silverstone test as part of their young driver allocation, but he lacks the experience to immediately jump up to the senior team in the Red Bull family.

Of course, da Costa’s plans could be scuppered if Red Bull elect to hire Raikkonen for next season.

Lewis Hamilton comes home to Mercedes factory after fourth title

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On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.

And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.

Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.

The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.

“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.

“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.

“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”

A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.