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After six rounds the 2012 GP3 Series is coming to a close with the penultimate event of the season at Spa this weekend, in what has so far been a strong season for Carlin. Coming off the back of a four week break and following a dominant weekend in Hungary, the entire team look to continue their recent form this weekend in Belgium with drivers Antonio Felix da Costa, Alex Brundle and William Buller.

Last time out in Hungary was Carlin’s strongest weekend in the GP3 Series so far, with da Costa becoming the first driver to win both races in a single weekend. In addition, British racer Brundle achieved his first podium position in the series with a strong third place finish during race two.

The Spa-Francorchamps race circuit is renowned as being one of the most challenging on the calendar. Corners such as Eau Rouge and Blanchimont, as well as elevation changes and the changeable weather conditions, make this race one of the most exciting events on the calendar to watch.

In the four week break the Carlin men have been keeping their race craft well and truly up to speed as they compete in other series. Buller has been out on track at both the Nürburgring and Zandvoort for the FIA European Formula Three Championship taking a win and a second place, as well as a strong points haul, over the course of the two rounds for Carlin.

Brundle and da Costa were both out at Silverstone with the World Endurance Championship and the Formula Renault 3.5 Series respectively where both drivers enjoyed strong races.

Lying third in the championship da Costa said of this weekend ‘It’s going to be great to be back in the GP3 car after such a good weekend in Hungary. We know we have the pace to come away with some strong results and so we will push 100% every time we go out. I love Spa as a circuit and I’ve won there in the past so it should be a good weekend for us. I’m too far behind in the points to be thinking about the championship so unlike Mitch [Evans] and Aaro [Vainio] I can just concentrate on taking risks and winning races.”

Coming off the back of a successful mid-season test around the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Carlin’s GP3 team now look ahead to a weekend of racing around the Valencia street circuit. The next round in Spain marks the third event in a season where Carlin has already clinched points in every race season, with drivers Antonio Felix da Costa, Alex Brundle and Will Buller.

Antonio Felix da Costa took a brilliant second place finish during the prestigious Monaco GP weekend last time out. The Portuguese driver has been on the pace all season and having secured pole position in Barcelona Felix da Costa has since gone on to clinch a podium position and is now lying in a strong fourth position in the championship.

Alex Brundle makes a return to the Carlin team after missing the final test due to prior Le Mans 24hr race commitments. Driving alongside his father, ex-Formula 1 driver and race pundit Martin Brundle, the 21 year old came eighth in his class during the historic race in France and now looks forward to re-familiarising himself with his GP3 car.

Having recently topped the final GP3 Series test of the season at the Valencia Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Buller looks ahead to the third race of the season. The Northern Irishman completed a comprehensive test with the team in Valencia where his time was unable to be beaten throughout the entirety of the two days of running. Buller has also been competing in the FIA European Formula Three championship where he has already taken a win and currently lies in fourth position in the championship.

Looking forward to the street race Buller said, ‘I can’t wait to get back out on track after what was a great test for the entire team in Valencia last week. We did a lot of work for the upcoming races throughout the two day test so I’m looking forward to continuing with our season’

The GP3 drivers will be on track for a 30 minute free practice session at 08.30 local time on Friday.

William BullerBritish team Carlin have completed a strong final pre-season GP3 test this week, ahead of the first race of the season in Barcelona next month. Carlin racer Antonio Felix da Costa has been consistently among the top three and finished yesterday’s running second overall. William Buller and Alex Brundle were also on the pace, setting the fifth and 14th quickest times yesterday.

The final pre-season test at the historic British circuit provided drivers with the last opportunity to prepare for the 2012 GP3 Series before the season gets underway in Barcelona in May. As the cars took to the cold track on for the first day of testing on Tuesday morning, rain looked a likely possibility. However the skies cleared and it was da Costa who quickly set the quickest time in between red flag periods. Team mates Brundle and Buller were also producing great times on the dry track – easily placing them within the top eight.

As the session came to a halt for lunch da Costa’s time was knocked off the top spot by MW Arden driver Mitch Evans meaning that the Carlin man finished the session in a very strong second position. Also having set fast times throughout the session Buller and Brundle finished comfortably in the top 6, setting the fourth and sixth quickest laps respectively.

The afternoon session saw mixed weather conditions with rain falling toward the tail end of the day, meaning the majority of the quickest times from the morning session still stood. At the end of the first day of running da Costa was third overall, Buller fifth and Brundle eighth.

The second and final day of testing was also marred with mixed conditions leading to multiple red flags. The slippery track didn’t worry da Costa however, who set the fastest time and despite others battling to steal his position, the Carlin driver finished the morning session as the quickest man on track. Buller was also on the pace again and made it two Carlin cars in the top five, while Brundle saw both his new tyre runs ruined by red flags and was 14th quickest.

Da Costa’s best lap from the morning session was enough to make his second fastest of the day overall, just behind MW Arden driver Mitch Evans.

Reflecting on the test, the Portuguese racer said, “It was a really good test for us at Silverstone. The car felt quick in all conditions and on new and old tyres which is encouraging. I still feel like we can make some improvements but we’re in really good shape ahead of the first race of the season and I can’t wait to get to Barcelona.”

Trevor Carlin added, “The team have completed an extremely encouraging test at Silverstone this week, and all three drivers have been amongst the front runners at some point. Antonio’s previous experience in the series is clearly paying off, and Alex and Will have continued to improve with every session in the car. With a very strong GP3 driver line-up now confirmed, the team are pushing harder than ever as we head to the first race of the season confident that we have a good package to challenge for race wins.”

Antonio Felix da CostaCarlin are pleased to announce that Portuguese racer Antonio Felix da Costa will join the team in the GP3 Series for the 2012 season. Da Costa has already worked with the team in race and test conditions, and has enjoyed a successful 2012 pre-season test programme with Carlin, having topped the timesheets at the last test in Barcelona. Da Costa joins previously announced Carlin GP3 Series driver Alex Brundle for an assault on the 2012 season.

20 year-old Antonio Felix da Costa previously competed with Carlin in four races of the GP3 Series in 2010 and was a regular front runner in last year’s championship. The Portuguese racer now returns for a championship assault with the team that has taken him to the top of the timesheets in pre-season testing.

Previous to the GP3 Series, Da Costa competed in the Formula Renault 2.0 Series where he took a total of nine wins on his way to becoming the 2009 champion. More recently the Portuguese driver has had experience in British Formula Three and competed in last year’s one off GP2 Final in Abu Dhabi. Da Costa’s impressive form saw him earn a drive in last year’s Formula One Young Driver tests, also in Abu Dhabi, with the Sahara Force India F1 Team.

Speaking about the upcoming season Antonio Felix da Costa said, ‘I’m really looking forward to this season with Carlin. I know the team really well and it get on so well with everyone, it’s like a family! Having raced with the team before I feel really comfortable in the car, which I think we’ve shown in pre-season testing. Our pace in testing has left me confident for the start of the season and I can’t wait for the first race in May.’

Trevor Carlin added, ‘Antonio is very well known to the team and I’m delighted to welcome him back for a season. He’s an extremely talented driver and his experience in the GP3 car has really helped the team. The team have done a great job in testing and Antonio has really been on form, setting the fastest time at the last test in Barcelona. I’m expecting him to be a real contender this season.”

British race team Carlin have enjoyed a successful start to the 2012 season, with the team’s British F3 and GP3 squads topping the time sheets in pre-season testing. Carlin’s GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 teams have also clocked up times in the top three to mark a strong start to the season over the last two weeks.

British racer Harry Tincknell topped the timesheets in the second day of British F3 testing at Rockingham today, as the team continued to develop its Volkswagen powered 2012 Dallara F3 car. Tincknell’s time was the fastest of the test overall, after fellow Carlin driver Jack Harvey set the pace at Rockingham yesterday. The Carlin men have locked out the top five positions at both the Rockingham and Snetterton pre-season tests, with their team mates Jazeman Jaafar, Carlos Sainz and Pietro Fantin over the last two weeks.

While the British F3 team finished two days of testing at Rockingham today, Carlin’s Formula Renault 3.5 team brought to a close two days of collective testing at the Paul Ricard circuit in France. Kevin Magnussen and Will Stevens both completed a successful test in the brand new FR3.5 car, with Magnussen setting the third fastest time of today’s running.

The Carlin GP3 team also enjoyed a successful outing this week, with Portuguese racer Antonio Felix da Costa setting the quickest time of the official two day test for Carlin. Will Buller was also in the top ten while Alex Brundle continued to make big improvements ahead of his first season in the series.

Preparing for the 2012 GP2 Series, Max Chilton and Rio Haryanto were out on track last week, at the Barcelona circuit in Spain. A consistent front runner in pre-season testing, Chilton set the second fastest time on the first day in Barcelona while Haryanto was seventh. The Briton and Indonesian continued to put in a strong performance in the final test before the season opener in Malaysia later this month.

Reflecting on a positive start to the 2012 season, Trevor Carlin said, “With 12 cars to prepare for the 2012 season across four championships, it’s a great testament to the team that all four squads have had such a strong start to the season. To finish each test within the top three is extremely encouraging and shows the hard work that has gone in over the winter period.”

Antonio Felix da Costa finished the final day of GP3 testing in Estoril third fastest for Carlin today, while Alex Brundle and William Buller set the thirteenth and sixteenth fastest times of the afternoon session at the Portuguese circuit.

With dry running and sunshine on the cards the morning session of the day saw the Carlin team continue a detailed test programme with Brundle, da Costa and Buller all setting competitive lap times and working hard on car set-up.

Da Costa was quick from the outset, finding his way to the sharp end of the timing sheets in the first and second session. Having had experience in the series before, the Portuguese driver continued to improve in the Carlin car and found himself sitting in the top three for both the morning and afternoon sessions.

Speaking of his positive test, da Costa said, “I think we can say that we were extremely consistent in our running during this test. I finished three out of the four sessions in the top three and I definitely felt that the car was good enough to be higher up than that – I couldn’t get a faster lap in during the final afternoon because I hit a little bit of traffic but the car felt good and I’m extremely pleased with how the test went.”

Alex Brundle also impressed the team with his feedback and performance in his first GP3 Series test. Brundle used the morning session to once again get more experienced with the GP3 machinery; with this being the young Brit’s first outing with the team and in the series, the main aim was to get miles on the clock and gain experience throughout the course of the test. He proved his potential by improving 0.5 seconds each practice session – all the while getting closer to his more experienced rivals.

Reflecting on his first GP3 test, Brundle said, “We worked today mainly on getting the most out of the tyres, and I feel as though we achieved that which made me more confident in the car. I want to carry this momentum into the second test and ultimately the first race of the season.

“The car feels great, it’s using the tyres well and although it’s a steep learning curve for me I think we can take a lot of positives from this test”

Former F3 racer Buller used the afternoon session to full advantage, completing race simulation runs and practice starts. He had clean running throughout the course of the day’s test and once again showed his pace, providing the team with great feedback over the two days of track action.

The second GP3 series test gets underway in Barcelona on 6th March.

Antonio Felix da CostaAntonio Felix da Costa showed the pace of the Carlin GP3 car today, in the first official test of the season in Estoril. The Portuguese racer looked quick on home soil, and went fastest in the final stages of this afternoon’s session. Last minute improvements by two other driver relegated da Costa to third place by the chequered flag. British racers William Buller and Alex Brundle also put in a strong performance, with Brundle making his debut with Carlin and in the GP3 Series.

The GP3 drivers were met with perfect conditions in Estoril this morning, for the first test of 2012. Alex Brundle made his on track debut with Carlin today, having been announced as a member of the team’s GP3 squad earlier this month. The Norfolk based racer adapted well to the GP3 car, and was 18th quickest in the morning session despite never having driven the car before.

Fellow Brit Will Buller made a welcome return to Carlin having tested the team’s GP3 car late last year. The Northern Irishman finished the afternoon 17th on the timesheets and is sure improvements can be made ahead of tomorrow’s second day of track action.

Da Costa proved to be a front runner today, fine tuning his set up throughout the morning session, before going second quickest in the afternoon. The 20 year-old went one better on his next lap to set the quickest time of the day so far. However, in the final minutes, Nico Müller went quicker, as did Mitch Evans by just 0.061 seconds to put da Costa third.

Speaking about his test, da Costa said, “It’s great to be back in a racing car after almost three months, and thanks to a great effort by everyone at Carlin, we finish today in the top three! We had good tyre management during the day and we have a good work plan for day two when I think we can improve even more.”

Carlin GP3 driver Brundle added, “Today’s learning curve was pretty much vertical for me, but we have made good progress I hope to continue improving tomorrow with the help of the team. I think overall we’ve made a good start today.”

Testing will resume tomorrow.

Antonio Felix da CostaAntonio Félix da Costa won this weekend in Nurburgring the Formula Renault 2.0 North European Championship title. After showing a strong and consistent performance during all season with 10 podiums in 12 races (nine wins and 1 second place), the Motorpark Portuguese driver won his first international title. Also in Nurburgring, Antonio Felix da Costa had the second last journey of the Eurocup, where he won the first race, and finished P2 on the second, being this classification suspended after an appeal from his team Motopark Academy against the disqualification of the Portuguese driver.

Due to the proximity of time between the first race of the NEC and the second race of the Eurocup, Team Motopark decided to make the Portuguese driver start from the pit lane in order to avoid the usual confusion of the first corner at Nurburgring: “I was P3 on the grid, where usually some confusion might happen on the start, so we decided to play secure and start from the pits” said Antonio, who after the field of 18 drivers pass, pulled out of the pit-lane and finished on a excellent sixth position after overtaking thirteen cars in thirteen laps.This result allowed Felix da Costa to start third , given the reversal of the top 8 of the grid for race two.

In the second race, pulling out of third place, Antonio Felix da Costa gave no chance to their opponents and won after an impressive race, finishing with more than 6 seconds clear of second-placed Briton Adrian Quaife – Hobbs. This result allowed the young Portuguese driver, considered by many as one of the most promising young drivers of the moment to collect the North European title of Formula Renault 2.0, still with two races to go at Spa Francorchamps in two weeks time.

“It was a very stressful weekend, I learn a lot about how to control emotions, I run two races for the Eurocup and two other for the NEC. I am really happy with my performance and I believe this title was a great reward for all the work and commitment that my team has spent since the beginning of the season. I am very pleased and even more motivated to continue to fight for the European Championship. I would like to thank and dedicate this title to those who accompanied me along this time, between sponsors, all guys in Motopark, friends, my manager team – Sowhat and my dad.”

In the second race of the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup Championship, Antonio Felix da Costa has again been highlighted. After the victory in the first race, he secured a second place on race two. The classification of both two races and scorings at Nurburgring for the Eurocup is currently suspended, pending resolution of the Sport Court of Appeals, due to the appeal brought by Motopark against an alleged irregularity. “The decision of the appeal of Motopark on these two races will come in the coming weeks. Both me and my team are fully confident that the final decision will be in our favour and the recovery of 27 points will come to me. For now I want to celebrate and enjoy the NEC title and after focus myself on the last race of the Eurocup at Alcaniz”, concluded the new North European Formula Renault 2.0 Champion.

Antonio Felix da CostaAntonio Felix da Costa was again in evidence this weekend at Le Mans on the competitive Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup. The Portuguese driver got two podiums and expanded his advantage in the leadership of the Eurocup, having now 7 more points than the Frenchman Jean Eric Vergne, who is now second on the championship and 14 more points than the Spanish Albert Costa (ranked third).

After the third place achieved in the first race and with only two race meetings remaining to the end of the season, Felix da Costa knew he would have to attack strongly in the race in order to consolidate his leadership on the Eurocup: “Being fourth on the grid, and having my main opponents on the first row I knew that I had to attack and make them pressure”, said the young Portuguese driver with only 17 years old, which was a protagonist of an excellent start, moving immediately to third position, behind the Spanish Albert Costa: “I started to make pressure on Albert, forcing him to make a mistake which happened after some laps. After this I was quick but Vergne was already a bit far away and unfortunately it was too late to reach him, “continued Antonio Felix da Costa who made the fastest of the race and completed the second race in second position.

The results of this weekend allowed Antonio Félix da Costa to open the gap on the leadership of the European Championship: “I came to Le Mans with 4 points of advantage to Albert Costa and now I have 7 points to the second and 14 to the third. Together with my team Motopark and especially with my engineer Dennis Lawyer, we did an excellent work, which gave me a extremely competitive car. However, our weakness is still the qualifying and on both races starting 4th on the grid didn’t allows us to fight for the win. I am aware of that situation and we have to move at this point, “concluded driver managed by Sowhat Management.

The next race of the season for Antonio Felix da Costa is at Assen (Holland) – 7/8 Uugust for the NEC (North European Championship), where he is also leading. This year on both championships (Eurocup and NEC) Antonio achieved a total of 12 podiums in 16 races, 5 of them on the top of the podium. A brilliant performance from the 17 year old driver, which is closer to get both titles only on his second year of car racing.

Classification of Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 after Le Mans: 1st António Félix da Costa, 97 pontos; 2nd Jean Eric Vergne, 90 pts; 3rd Albert Costa, 83 pts….

Next race: Nurburgring – 19 & 20 September.

Antonio Felix da CostaOnly 3 rounds to the end of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 is what separates the title from Antonio Felix da Costa. The Motopark driver is leading the Championship and next weekend at Le Mans the goal is to open the gap to his rivals, and if possible repeat his brilliant win of the last race at Silverstone.

The 17 year old driver that is leading both Eurocup and NEC (North European Cup) Formula Reanult 2.0 Championships is optimistic and motivated for the next weekend: “On the last races we made really good improvements on the car, the team is strongly motivated, I got three wins in the last four races which make me feel together with my engineer really confident and motivated. My aim for this weekend is to win, but specially to open the gap to my rivals, in particular Albert Costa. To achieve this, qualifying is crucial and starting on pole would be a very important step to make it”, said the driver managed by Sowhat Management.

With only 3 weekends to the end of Eurocup, Antonio doesn’t think to much about that and concentrates on getting maximium points on each race: “If I would say that my ambition is not to win the Eurocup I would be lying, but there are still 6 races to go and a lot of things can happen, so I prefer to think race by race and do my best each time that I sit on my Renault”, commented the driver from Portugal.

Once again, the program of the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, together with the World Series by Renault will start on Friday with the free practice sessions. On Saturday will take place both qualifying and first race of the weekend. The 2nd race will take place on Sunday.