Second Macau win may help ease Antonio Da Costa's Formula One despair
Portuguese reigning champion has point to prove after being overlooked for Toro Rosso seat
Antonio Felix da Costa has the chance today to become only the second driver ever to win back-to-back Macau titles, but it's safe to say it's an opportunity the Portuguese driver might wish he'd never been given.
The 22-year-old was a late entry to the event, taking the place of his fellow Red Bull Academy driver Daniil Kvyat, after the latter was elevated to a Formula One seat at Toro Rosso, Red Bull's junior team, three weeks ago.
It was a decision that stunned Formula One because Da Costa - three years the Russian's senior, with much more experience - seemed to be the heir apparent after a seat became available.
This year Da Costa finished third in Formula Renault 3.5 while Kvyat won the GP3 series. The usual progression is to go from GP3 to Formula Renault 3.5 or GP2 before getting an F1 shot.
It led many to assume Kvyat had got the ride because he was bringing a pile of sponsorship roubles with him; the fact Russia joins the F1 circuit in Sochi next year also would not have hurt.
Among F1 drivers to question the decision were Adrian Sutil ("dangerous for everyone"), Paul di Resta ("shocked … nothing makes sense"), Jenson Button and Romain Grosjean.
But whatever the ins and outs, the bottom line is that Kvyat is in Austin today helping Toro Rosso at the US Grand Prix, while Da Costa is in Macau and wondering if he'll ever fulfil his Formula One dream.
If he's bitter, he hides it well.
"I was sad for a week or two obviously, it's been a punch in the stomach, but life goes on and we need to keep racing," he said.
"I need to thank Red Bull for these two years because maybe two years ago I couldn't imagine that I would be sad today for not getting an F1 seat.
"It's not over yet, we're staying in the mix, staying in the F1 paddock, showing my face - so if something comes up we'll be there to get it."
Da Costa gained many fans for the gracious way he accepted the decision, tweeting: "It hurts, but it's like this, I'm happy for Daniil and that it stays in the Red Bull family, enjoy mate."
The fact that the two shared a flat in England might also have made for an awkward conversation around the breakfast table, but Da Costa even found the good humour to joke, "Looking for a new flatmate … interests please retweet".
"I think I'll move back to Portugal now," he smiled in Macau. "It was a great year in Milton Keynes sharing the flat with Danny, he's a European Russian really and he's a cool guy, and I'm here to watch and see what he's capable of in F1."
For now Da Costa doesn't know where he'll end up in 2014; another win today over the Guia circuit might prove a point to his bosses, but he insists today isn't about points-scoring.
"I think winning again this year is more of a personal goal," he said. "It's always nice to win, especially here in Macau, and if we can make it back-to-back wins then perfect - I don't need to make anyone sad.
"I have to say Red Bull has been pushing in many different directions which is great and putting my name out there with big manufacturers in other series, so hopefully in a couple of weeks we can have the future decided."
Video: Macau Grand Prix 2013