F1 hopeful Luiz Razia believes that Daniil Kvyat's Russian nationality combined with a brief hiccup in Antonio Felix da Costa's career to present the GP3 Series champion with a chance to make the leap to the top flight.
After a stellar 2012 campaign, Portuguese ace da Costa had all been inked as Red Bull's next F1 graduate, either with the senior team or Toro Rosso
should it decide to promote Daniel Ricciardo or Jean-Eric Vergne as Mark Webber's replacement. However, when the Australian veteran finally decided to call time on his F1 career, and Ricciardo was duly promoted to fill the void alongside Sebastian Vettel, it was Kvyat who got the call from Toro Rosso
despite the Russian being a step or two behind his rival on the career ladder.
While da Costa has been retained by Red Bull
in a test and development capacity, and will race in the DTM this season, Razia – who saw his own F1 ambitions with Marussia thwarted by sponsorship problems a year ago – believes that his record should have put him in the driving seat ahead of Kvyat.
"I'm the devil's advocate because I am friends with Antonio and I think he was much stronger in pace," he told Brazil's TotalRace
website, “But we know that is not everything. Toro Rosso
has difficulties like everyone else, so there was a situation where everything fell into place.
“It is very clear that next year there is a race in Russia and F1 needs a Russian. [F1] is a category with a lot of politics and [Kvyat] is sponsored by a Russian bank, which also helped.”
While Kvyat's nationality and backing no doubt came at an opportune time with the introduction of a Russian Grand Prix to the F1 calendar in 2014, Razia also believes that da Costa suffering a tough 2013 campaign tipped the balance in the youngster's favour. Having starred in a handful of late-season WSbR outings in 2012, combining them with parallel GP3 and F3 campaigns, da Costa made the move to the 3.5-litre category full-time in 2013. However, a problem-riddled opening to the year left him with too much ground to make up on the likes of eventual champion Kevin Magnussen.
"I think there was a loss of momentum,” Razia commented, “The Arden team is good, but he had some problems this season. Even then, he won a third of the races he competed in and was third in the series."