Formula E

Da Costa: 2017 Le Mans hopes dashed by ‘ruined’ LMP2 market

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Antonio Felix da Costa feels his hopes of racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year were dashed by the lack of opportunities in the LMP2 market for platinum-rated drivers.

Da Costa currently races with MS Amlin Andretti in Formula E, but was angling for a drive at Le Mans in 2017 to add to his busy program that will also see him race at the Nürburgring 24 Hours with BMW, as well as developing its 2018 GTE car.

The Portuguese driver had been looking for a drive in the LMP2 class, but failed to secure a seat and was not named on the official entry list for the race, published on Tuesday.

“The LMP2 market is not nice at the moment,” da Costa explained to NBC Sports over the Monaco Formula E race weekend.

“It’s a bit ruined because the silver drivers are the most dominant factor there, and it’s not interesting for the teams to have a platinum driver.

“I would still love to do it just to get some experience, but the teams are charging money for the seats. All the gold and platinum guys are paying to be there, the silvers are paying to be there. The market itself is not great.”

Da Costa felt that running at Le Mans would have boosted his chances of securing a drive with BMW upon its entry to the FIA World Endurance Championship’s GTE Pro class in 2018, but remains hopeful of getting the nod for a seat.

“I’m sure if I did Le Mans this year, it would help me out to get a small advantage to get that seat next year,” da Costa said.

“That’s one of the reasons that I wanted to do it as well, but yeah. I’m deeply involved in the development of the new car. Hopefully I can get myself into that.”

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.