Portuguese driver Antonio Felix da Costa chalked up his second victory in the Suncity Group Formula Three Macau Grand Prix – FIA F3 World Cup – on Sunday and then duly passed the baton over to motorsport’s next generation.
“I’m not coming back,” said the 25-year-old. “This is for the rookies and the guys who want to go to Formula One. I’m not going to Formula One anymore, so this is my last in the F3 car. Next year I’ll come back and race with the old boys in the GTs.”
This– historic race – on a tricky 6.12km track that winds through the heart of this southern Chinese enclave– will be all the poorer for the loss, even given the fact that this edition was the first time Da Costa had returned since his breakthrough victory in 2012.
Da Costa drove his Carlin Volkswagen through the streets as though it were his home town and used all his experience to first get past 18-year-olds Callum Ilott (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Sergio Sette Camara (Carlin), and then, late in the race, hold off the assault being launched by Swedish 25-year-old Felix Rosenqvist, already himself a two-time winner of the event.
“This one feels better,” said Da Costa. “None of this makes any sense. I was not supposed to come here. It was a late call, and a car with no sponsors.
“I said all week to come away with a top five would be great. But to win? Wow. I’m just a happy boy.”
Rosenqvist (SJM Theodore Racing by Prema) had started sixth on the grid and sped through the field, but found the race end came just a little too soon – and Da Costa had put a little too much space between himself and the field anyway.
I said all week to come away with a top five would be great. But to win? Wow. I’m just a happy boy.
“It was a tough weekend where everything felt that it went against us,” said Rosenqvist. “We had to work very hard to get the car ready and improve when the opportunities presented themselves. I actually thought there were more laps left. But I gave it everything.”
Brazilian prospect Sette Camara filled out the podium and showed perhaps the shape of things to come in Macau, a race where some of the great of motorsport have announced themselves to the world – including his late great compatriot Ayrton Senna who won here in 1984.
“It was a great experience just watching these two more experienced guys and how they handled the race,” he said. “Watching them has taught me a lot about what is needed to win this race so I really want to come back.”