GP3 Series

Felix Da Costa Makes GP3 History With Hungarian Double

3 Mins read
Antonio Felix da Costa - Photo Credit: Daniel Kalisz/GP3 Media Service

Antonio Felix da Costa became the first ever driver to win both races in a GP3 Series weekend after mastering his tyre strategy on a drying track to win the second race in Hungary.

A thunderstorm earlier in the morning presented the drivers with a wet track at the start of the race, although the rain had stopped.

MW Arden drivers David Fumanelli and Matias Laine started the race alongside each other on the front row, and it was Laine who edged into the lead at turn one. Meanwhile, the team's third driver and points leader Mitch Evans spun from sixth on the grid at turn one, before Fumanelli spun himself exiting turn two out of P2.

Lotus GP pair Conor Daly and Aaro Vainio moved up to second and third ahead of Kevin Ceccon, and fast-starting local hero Tamas Pal Kiss who had started down in 14th. Daniel Abt was sixth, with Felix da Costa in seventh.

Pal Kiss got ahead of Ceccon on lap two, with Abt and Felix da Costa then also getting past the Italian youngster. Felix da Costa then got up into fifth place past Abt, and on lap nine he followed Pal Kiss in to the pits for a change to slicks as the track came to those on the dry-weather tyre.

While the leading trio of Laine, Daly and Vainio continued on wets as they fought for the lead of the race, Felix da Costa began working his way through the order.

Running ten seconds faster than the leaders, the Portuguese driver passed Daly with three laps to go, and then got ahead of Vainio and Laine for the race lead on the penultimate tour. He crossed the line with a lead of nearly 12 seconds.

“It’s nice to make some history,” he said. “We beat the track record yesterday in Race 1, so made history yesterday and a little bit more today by winning two races. It’s all been about team work and we had a good strategy from the moment we woke up today.

“We could see it was not dry enough for slicks, it was too wet, but we knew it was going to dry out. The strategy was planned very well and it worked very well. We were lapping nearly 11 seconds faster and as I said after qualifying, we don’t have the pace to be on pole, though that’s something we are working on. But we have the pace to win races and that’s what I am going to keep doing.”

Tamas Pal Kiss - Photo Credit: Daniel Kalisz/GP3 Media Service

Pal Kiss stood on the podium on the morning of his home Grand Prix, but was later penalised – Photo Credit: Daniel Kalisz/GP3 Media Service

Pal Kiss also charged to the front, passing Vainio and Laine to take second on the last lap, only to be overtaken at the line by Patric Niederhauser. The Swiss driver began the race on slicks and that gamble paid off for him as he came from 11th place with four laps left, and then moved from fifth to second on the last lap.

Pal Kiss got to stand on the podium on home soil, but later had his podium finish taken away from him after the stewards found him guilty of crossing the white line exiting the pits. He was handed a 20 second penalty that dropped him to tenth.

Alex Brundle inherited his first GP3 podium, joining Carlin teammate Felix da Costa on the podium. He deployed the same strategy as Niederhauser by starting on slicks and ran ahead of him until the penultimate lap.

Tio Ellinas started the race on slicks from the pits after a problem at the start of the formation lap and came through to claim fourth, just ahead of recent series-returnee Lewis Williamson who also stopped earlier than most. Laine and Vainio took sixth and seventh after losing multiple places in a last lap that was 15 seconds slower than Felix da Costa's. Ceccon recovered to eighth after pitting for slicks, ahead of Daly.

Abt remained on wet tyres and fell to 11th, crossing the line at the same time as slick-shod William Buller. The Northern Irishman started towards the back of the grid but flew in the tricky conditions early on, moving up to ninth alone on the opening lap and was up to fifth at one stage but ultimately stopped too late.

Marlon Stockinger took 13th, ahead of Robert Cregan and Alex Fontana. Dmitry Suranovich climbed from last to fifth at one stage before falling down the order again, and finishing ahead of Ethan Ringel, Facu Regalia, Vicky Piria and Alice Powell.

Evans came in and switched to slicks following his first lap spin but then had another off at the chicane before the track came to those on slicks. He finished 21st with the fastest lap on the final tour, but won't get the two points for that as he finished outside the top ten. Those instead go to Felix da Costa, who moves to within 34 points of Evans and 17 of Vainio with two rounds remaining at Spa and Monza after the break.

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About author
Peter joined the TCF team in September 2010 and covers GP2 and GP3 along with WTCC and Formula Two. You can find him on twitter at @PeteAllen_
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