Da Costa ‘not so sad’ to have missed F1 chance with Red Bull
Da Costa was arguably the hottest talent in the Red Bull junior programme between 2012-2013 and seemed destined to get his F1 chance before the team opted instead to promote Daniil Kvyat at the tender age of 19.
Now five years on, da Costa is a BMW factory driver and has become a race winner for the German marque in the DTM, International GT Open, and more recently, Formula E.
Reflecting on the early part of his career, da Costa now says he simply watches F1 as a fan and that his career goals have shifted, something he’s had to learn to accept.
“You know, I am not so sad to not be in F1 right now. I was sad to not get it at the time because when I started racing, my goal was F1, and I missed it,” says da Costa.
“So that will always be there, and I don’t think anything will ever make up for that, but that doesn’t mean that winning a championship here with BMW would be any less satisfying. It’s just I have different goals, new goals.
“You know, every year we set ourselves new goals and that’s just how life goes. My mind is not in F1 at the moment, I’m just a fan watching races. I have a lot of friends and race drivers [in F1] that I like and know well, so I just watch it as a fan.”
Having come so close to achieving his F1 dream, da Costa credits BMW for showing faith in him at a difficult time in his career and the Portuguese driver says he wants to repay them with success on track.
“BMW were the ones who picked me when I wasn’t wanted [by Red Bull], so I give these guys a lot of credit,” says da Costa.
“I’m a very loyal person and I’m happy that we were able to win a race together, for the story and for the plan, it was amazing. Hopefully, we can keep doing that and obviously winning a championship with BMW is my big goal right now. I couldn’t do it in DTM, I won a couple of races, a few pole positions, but I didn’t win a championship.
“We have Le Mans coming up and [a win there] would be something that I would love to give [the BMW] guys. I’ve now given them a race win in Formula E on their first go, and obviously, [to win] a championship would be great.”
In recent years, Toro Rosso’s revolving door of junior prospects has served to give second chances to the likes of Brendon Hartley, Daniil Kvyat, and Alexander Albon – all of whom were dropped from the programme at one point or another.
When asked if he too would give F1 another shot, da Costa refuses to rule it out and says he still enjoys a good relationship with Dr Helmut Marko, the man tasked with developing Red Bull’s young talent but someone with a reputation for being tough and uncompromising with his drivers.
“It all depends, for sure. I mean, I love Helmut and the way he does things, his philosophy and how strict he is and how much he wants out of a driver. It’s obviously hard when you’re 16 or 17 or whatever to cope with it, but for me, it was never an issue,” says da Costa.
“You know, I would be the one picking up the phone and calling him [for a] chat,” he adds.
“He was always very up front to me, and never told me that the [Red Bull] seat was mine, but I had my [seat fit] done, I had my race suits done, I had my Fridays all planned out and stuff.
“Then one day he picked up the phone and said, ‘we don’t have the space for you any more’, but in the same call he also said, ‘you’re gonna race DTM with BMW’.
“So, at the same time, he gave me my career right now. He was the one who linked me with BMW and helped that to happen.”
Da Costa acknowledges that he was fortunate to have retained such close links to Red Bull after missing out on an F1 seat, and as he points out, many of the other young drivers who failed to make it were cast aside altogether.
“I was the only driver so far in the Red Bull programme that did not get the [F1] seat but stayed in the Red Bull family,” says da Costa. “Normally if they don’t take you for F1, it’s because they think you’re not good enough and they fire you, but that wasn’t the case with me at all.
“I didn’t get the seat, but I stayed as their test driver and I stayed as a Red Bull driver for three years after that, so I appreciate a lot for what they’ve done for me.
“Yes, I missed out on my chance, but looking at what happened after that, I couldn’t be happier now.”
Image Credit: BMW Motorsport
300-101 400-101 300-320 300-070 300-206 200-310 300-135 300-208 810-403 400-050 640-916 642-997 300-209 400-201 200-355 352-001 642-999 350-080 MB2-712 400-051 C2150-606 1Z0-434 1Z0-146 C2090-919 C9560-655 642-64 100-101 CQE CSSLP 200-125 210-060 210-065 210-260 220-801 220-802 220-901 220-902 2V0-620 2V0-621 2V0-621D 300-075 300-115 AWS-SYSOPS 640-692 640-911 1Z0-144 1z0-434 1Z0-803 1Z0-804 000-089 000-105 70-246 70-270 70-346 70-347 70-410