Antonio Felix Da Costa is a happy man. The Portuguese driver secured a dominant win and fastest lap after starting from P3 on the grid in a race that was delayed due to weather conditions. After a deluge of rain throughout the day, the GP3 Race started under menacing black clouds with temperatures of around 15 degrees, making it much cooler than previous rounds.
When the race got underway, the start was worth waiting for! Mitch Evans (MW Arden) from pole made a great getaway, while his main Series rival in P2 Aaro Vainio (Lotus GP) struggled to pull away and a lost a place to Felix Da Costa. After a few turns on lap one, the Carlin driver made a brave manoeuvre on the New Zealander to overtake him around the outside and claim the lead of the race.
It was a clean start from the drivers with one stoppage, Brit’ William Buller (Carlin). Daniel Abt (Lotus GP) got the better of Matias Laine (MW Arden), whilst Tio Ellinas (Marussia Manor Racing) was also on the move passing home favourite Alex Brundle (Carlin) on the outside.
Ethan Ringel was the next retirement early on in the race whilst race leader Felix Da Costa controlled a steady one second advantage over Evans. One man on the up was Conor Daly (Lotus GP) who originally qualified in P5 but due to a penalty imposed after Valencia started the race back in 14th. After 4 laps, the American had progressed through to field to P7 and continued his charge through the pack. Tamas Pal Kiss (Atech CRS GP) who also had a grid penalty and started 20th clawed his way up the ladder to finish an eventual 11th.
As the rain stayed away and the sunshine came out, Felix Da Costa increased the margin back to Evans to around three seconds at the midway point of the race trading fastest laps with Daly and Vainio in an attempt to grab two further vital points. The battle was on for P8 and it was Ocean Racing Technology’s Kevin Ceccon who spent a large proportion of the race trying to find a way through on Laine. With three laps to go, he sealed the deal and passed the Finn to hold him off until the chequered flag.
Felix Da Costa, winning by an impressive seven second margin, celebrated his second win of his GP3 career and set about his challenge to catch up for the chase of the GP3 crown. Evans in P2 extended his lead in the Drivers Standings, now 11 points in front of Vainio who took the final spot on the rostrum. Abt finished P4, ahead of teammate Daly who fought his way up to an eventual fifth. Ellinas, Brundle, Ceccon, Laine and Patric Niederhauser completed the final points scorers. Felix Da Costa’s victory makes him the sixth different winner from the first seven races of the 2012 GP3 Series!
David Fumanelli (MW Arden) and Carmen Jorda (Ocean Racing Technology) did not start the race.
Reverse Pole tomorrow goes to Kevin Ceccon.
GP3 Race 2 starts at 08.30 am local time.