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Sainz Jnr and Felix Da Costa shine in F3 Cup

Monday, October 28 2013

With the Macau GP just a few weeks away, Red Bull Junior Team drivers Antonio Felix Da Costa and Carlos Sainz jnr ensured their qualification with a guest appearance in F3 Cup at Snetterton last weekend with Carlin Racing. The pair had contrasting weekends, as Sainz won twice and Felix Da Costa crashed out after picking up second place in race one.

It was Felix Da Costa's second appearance in F3 Cup after winning twice and making plenty of friends at Snetterton during the final round of 2012. The Portuguese star couldn't match his feat from twelve months ago, but he was still pleased to have joined the championship once again.

"It was a good weekend, it's always nice to come here." he said after a difficult race two. "Maybe I needed Stuart's [Wiltshire of F3 Cup] advice to do a rocket starts, it's his fault! We've had a lot of fun, I get along well with Carlos but when the helmets go on we want to win. It will be a fun Macau too for sure."

Felix Da Costa's and Carlin boss Trevor Carlin's enthusiasm for the championship played a major part in Sainz jnr's debut in F3 Cup at the season finale. He made a big impression by taking both of the wins from the Invitational Class in a Carlin VW Dallara F308, and enjoyed being out of the car as much as being in it during the weekend.

Sainz said "It's a great experience, Antonio spoke a lot about it last year and he said he had a lot of fun and it is a lot of fun. Everybody here loves the sport, it's a really nice environment and I'm enjoying myself.

"Me and Antonio are great friends. We support each other when we can, though obviously on track it's a bit different but he talks about this [F3 Cup] and so does Trevor [Carlin]. That's why we decided to come here. There's always a bit of a fight between us on the track but we had dinner together and a lot of laughs."

The two starlets were denied a repeat of their first race battle when Felix Da Costa suffered clutch issues on the grid of race two. Robbie Watts and Tony Bishop couldn't avoid hitting the Red Bull protégé as he sat stranded on the line.

"I was experimenting a bit with rocket starts but it went the other way and burned the clutch before the start. I never stalled, but when I let go of the clutch it was too hot and moving very, very slowly." Felix Da Costa explained after the race.

"I'm just really sorry. If it's just me then it's fine. I just feel sorry the others; I didn't want to cause any damage. This is my Macau car too and we have only a week to put it in shape so I'm sorry to the guys too."

Lotus F1 Junior Team driver and Formula Renault front-runner Esteban Ocon also joined the F3 Cup line-up last weekend with Lanan Racing to qualify for Macau. The 17 year-old Frenchman took third in race one behind Sainz jnr and Felix Da Costa before engine problems curtailed his weekend, denying him the chance of more time in an F3 car on Sunday.