Antonio Felix da Costa has a golden opportunity to win a place in Formula One next year following Daniel Ricciardo’s move to Red Bull.
Ricciado’s promotion leaves a vacancy at Toro Rosso which Da Costa is first in line to fill. But he says he needs to keep doing well in the Formula Renault 3.5 series to earn his place.
“Now we know the chance is officially there and it’s all relying on my [Formula Renault 3.5] results,” he told Autosport.
Da Costa ran an unusual dual campaign in two junior championships last year. He finished third in GP3 following a car problem in the final round at Monza. He also made an eye-catching debut in Formula Renault 3.5 part-way through the season, finishing fourth despite missing five races.
He has had some misfortunes this year and four no-scores have left him languishing in the points standings. “At the end of the day, the bosses want results not explanations,” he added.
“It’s my job to fix the problems and to give them the results so they have the reasons to promote me.”
Da Costa was one of four drivers tested by Red Bull and Toro Rosso at Silverstone earlier this year, along with Carlos Sainz Jnr, Daniil Kvyat and Johnny Cecotto Jnr. The latter is not part of their driver development programme and the other two do not have as much experience as Da Costa.
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.