Antonio Felix Da Costa - Photo Credit: Drew Gibson/GP3 Series Media Service

Felix da Costa topped the timesheets in Barcelona testing with Carlin - Photo Credit: Drew Gibson/GP3 Series Media Service

Carlin have confirmed that Antonio Felix da Costa will race for them in the GP3 Series this season.

It will be the Portuguese driver's second full campaign in the category, following a difficult 2011 season with the Status Grand Prix team. He could only finish 13th in the points, though he did win the season finale at Monza.

He had been eyeing a graduation to GP2 for 2012, but budget reasons forced him to look at remaining in GP3. At the pre-season tests at Estoril and Barcelona he drove for Carlin, a team he previously raced for at the Budapest and Spa rounds of the 2010 season. He topped the timesheets on the final day in Barcelona.

The 20-year-old is amongst the most highly-rated drivers in junior single-seater racing, having won the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC title in 2009 while also finishing third in the Eurocup, tying on points with Jean-Eric Vergne. In 2010 he won three races in the Formula 3 Euro Series on his way to seventh in the points, and tested an F1 car for Force India at the end of the year.

Felix da Costa joins Alex Brundle in Carlin's GP3 lineup for the coming season, with William Buller likely for the third seat having occupied it during testing.

“I'm really looking forward to this season with Carlin,” said Felix da Costa. “I know the team really well and it get on so well with everyone, it's like a family! 

“Having raced with the team before I feel really comfortable in the car, which I think we've shown in pre-season testing.  Our pace in testing has left me confident for the start of the season and I can't wait for the first race in May.”

Trevor Carlin added: “Antonio is very well known to the team and I'm delighted to welcome him back for a season.  He's an extremely talented driver and his experience in the GP3 car has really helped the team. 

“The team have done a great job in testing and Antonio has really been on form, setting the fastest time at the last test in Barcelona.  I'm expecting him to be a real contender this season.”