In September, Daniel Ricciardo was officially announced as Mark Webber's replacement at Red Bull Racing for 2014. As such, one of the seats at Toro Rosso would indeed be free. De Costa, meanwhile, was still going through a rocky Formula Renault 3.5 campaign – and was out of the title fight for good in early fall. In one of the Hungary races, Antonio made an unforced error, colliding with Mikhail Aleshin and, as a result, dropping further back from Magnussen and Vandoorne.
Da Costa was also an Arden driver that year. Cyril Blais was working in both championships, and he could observe the campaign from within.
"I respect Antonio a lot, he's a fantastic driver. But Red Bull have their own methods of working with drivers, they can make harsh decisions. They can either make a star or break a driver. For Antonio, that year wasn't going to plan from the start. He was almost guaranteed a Toro Rosso seat, but he was unlucky in the end.
"And, sure, many circumstances can affect the outcome, but in the end only you make your own luck. He came to the team at the end of 2012 and won half the races that he started. The year after he had the same car, the same team, he was working with the same people, but the result was different.
"It's hard for me to judge how it is to work with Dr. Marko, but I think he knows what he's doing. The communication between us was only a couple of encounters. Before the season-opening GP3 race at Barcelona, he came to introduce himself. I remember he looked at me, asked who I was. I said: 'Chief engineer'. He asked where I was from. I said: 'France.' He looked me over, turned around and left without saying anything. I didn't really know how to feel about that, and next time I talked to him was below the podium, when both of us were celebrating Daniil's victory. He congratulated me for getting 'all the shit out of the car'. I responded: 'Our car hasn't changed, but we did fix your driver.' He has a great sense of humour.
"He has to make a lot of difficult decisions. He doesn't always appear the kindest man in the world, but in actuality he does a fantastic job. He definitely knows what he's doing.'
In Kvyat in the fall of 2013, Helmut Marko had a driver who managed to turn around a difficult season and start winning races, one after the other. A driver who managed to adapt to entirely new machinery over just a single weekend and then immediately claim pole position in one of the most competitive junior series – and then later achieve a race win. Finally, a driver who proved he's willing to do almost anything to win – even to defy his team's instructions.
After the Formula 3 weekend at Zandvoort Marko called Kvyat up to Graz and offered him a Toro Rosso deal for the 2014 season. Daniil only had to ask for a pen.