Antonio da Costa wins Macau Grand Prix

Portuguese winner of Macau Grand Prix gets to hear another country's anthem on the podium

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 November, 2012, 3:16am

A Portuguese winner of the Macau Grand Prix - what better, given the former colony's history. But if Antonio da Costa thought this was home from home, he got a surprise when he stood on the podium for the national anthem.

Nobody knew what the song played was, but it certainly wasn't A Portuguesa. As ranks of fans with Portuguese heritage booed, a minor farce played out as organisers tried to find the proper song, were overtaken by the crowd's a cappella version, then finally got the right CD or MP3 to let Da Costa hear it again.

That was about the only thing that went wrong for the Carlin driver, who led almost from start to finish to claim the title at the third attempt, setting the fastest lap in a near-perfect display. He is the only Portuguese to have won since Eduardo de Carvalho in 1954's first edition, so maybe the anthem snafu was understandable.

"It does make it extra special winning in Macau and being Portuguese," said the 21-year-old. "The little incident we had on the podium was a bit sad, but on the other hand you saw all the people down there singing the national anthem, it was very emotional for me.

"I think it's the best win of my career, I've won many races in many places but this is the one. It only happens once a year and it's really, really special."

Second-placed Felix Rosenqvist (Mucke) overtook him at the start, but Da Costa immediately reeled him back in, then held the Swede off as he tried to slipstream past when the safety car left the track on lap six. Alex Lynn capped a superb debut with third place for Fortec.

Da Costa finished Formula 3's most prestigious race sixth in 2010 and did not finish last year. He's had a superb season, testing impressively for Red Bull's Formula One team and finishing third and fourth in GP3 and Formula Renault 3.5 respectively, just below F1. This was a title he desperately wanted.

"I don't think my CV would exactly have been incomplete without it, but it definitely feels more complete now," he added. "I'm only missing a Formula One win now and eventually a world championship and that's what I'm working for.

"It's a small step towards that, but there's another year to come [in the junior formulae] and I need to do well again and we'll see what happens. This has been the perfect weekend."

Lynn, 19 and in his first F3 season, exceeded his expectations and hopes to do even better next year.

"It's certainly up there with my best achievements," said the Englishman. "I always want to win but considering I'm in my first year it's a great achievement.

"Obviously you want to win, but you've just got to have respect for those two guys driving that fast without making any mistakes "I hope to come back, it's an amazing event and I want to win it."

Maybe he will - and maybe he'll even get to hear God Save the Queen.