Rising star Antonio Felix da Costa is under no illusion that his popularity at Red Bull comes at a price, but he is determined not buckle under the pressure
The Portuguese driver capped a stellar campaign, in which he finished third in GP3 and fourth in the World Series by Renault, by being added to the Red Bull development programme and testing with world champions RBR at the end-of-season session in Abu Dhabi, but he knows that he now has to perform to an even higher level to justify possible promotion to F1 in the next year or so.
Looking set to return to the WSbR as Red Bull continues to shun GP2 in its bid to bring young drivers to the fringe of the top flight, da Costa is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.
"We will have to see - I don't know what is going on really,” he confessed to Sky Sports
when asked what might be on the horizon, “I have heard nothing so far and am just enjoying some holidays and waiting on a phone call from the big guys. At the moment there is not much I can say, but if it is World Series, if it is F1, if it is on the simulator, I will just give it my best."
With fellow Iberian Jaime Alguersuari still looking for a way back into F1 after being dropped by the Red Bull programme, da Costa knows that whatever he ends up doing in 2013, he has to perform to the height of his ability.
"You have pressure every time - it is not just being at Red Bull,” the 21-year old claimed, “People talk about the Red Bull programme being very tough on a driver but, at the end of the day, they are paying for you to drive and you become an employee for them.
"At the end of the day, if they are paying for you to race, then they want you to win and you have to deliver. If not, then you go home - that is the policy. If you are quick, they take good care of you; if you are not, they send you home and I think that is fair enough. Some drivers might get a second chance but that doesn't happen often with Red Bull and I hope I won't need one."
There was pressure even when da Costa turned out with Red Bull at Yas Marina, but the Portuguese believes that he created a good impression.
"It was as if my Christmas had come early to be confirmed to drive for two days with a world championship-winning car and team,” he admitted, “At the time, they were not yet [champions], so the test was really about getting the car going and trying to find the last tweaks for the last two races as well as running some new parts for 2013.
"I was very excited by the chance, but they needed me to deliver straightaway, so I was really focused and had really good preparation back at home in the simulator and it turned out to be good."