Following the end of the 2021 Monoposto championship we caught up with Bruno Costa, who was keen to tell us all about his experience of racing a single seater in the series, which marked his first full competitive motorsport season outside his home country of Brazil.
In a calendar featuring the UK’s top circuits, Bruno finished fourth overall in the M1000 class championship, with third having been a realistic target if not for some unfortunate mid-season reliability issues. Alongside this he also achieved three class podiums and won the 130R Performance-sponsored Driver of the Day award at Donington Park. The season ended on a high note with a combative drive through the field (again at Bruno’s favourite circuit of Donington Park) mastering mixed conditions on slick tyres to turn a P23 starting position into P9 at the chequered flag.
For a season which looked like it may not even happen back in April due to difficulties raising the required budget, it’s been one of great successes and comes alongside further progression in Bruno’s professional career as a motorsport engineer. Bruno’s overwhelming reflection from the season therefore is one of achievement, learning, and the culmination of his years of hard work and sacrifice in coming to the UK.
If you look back to only three or four years ago I could not even speak much English, and was trying to find a way in motorsport having just moved to the UK. The plan at the start of this year was to maybe get out for two races, but we completed the whole season which was a big achievement.
Bruno is immensely grateful to John Kirby for provision of the JKS single seater he drove this season, a car which he has also worked on in his spare time over the course of the year to make demonstrable gains in performance. We’re also extremely appreciative for the crucial support from Hoosier tyres and Alfano in contributing to getting Bruno out on track this season. As well as financial support, representatives from these companies also devoted time track side at every race weekend and test session to help out with the race team’s activities.
Finally, Bruno’s Oxford Brookes University course mate Julio Cesar Maya (pictured below) acted as number one mechanic for the season, which importantly allowed Bruno to step away from working on the car and instead apply all his focus to driving it.
Having worked on the JKS car for two seasons and completely rebuilt it over the 2020-21 off season, Bruno is a firm advocate of drivers having an in-depth mechanical knowledge of the car they are piloting. We asked Bruno about his main learning experience this year, and how he has adapted to the more precise driving style required in a single seat race car compared to the silhouette style tin top machines he raced back at home.
This year I drove with more knowledge… more theory. I drive completely differently to how I drove in Brazil now that I have learned so much more about the physics and dynamics of the car, such as turn-in and weight transfer. The way I drive the car and how comfortable I am in it is much more natural now. I’m so used to the car, through the seat time racing this year but also all the work I have carried out on it, that I can feel tiny differences in tyre pressure or if the gear change is out by even a fraction of a second.
Bruno’s final year project on his motorsport engineering degree will now focus on the aerodynamics of single seat race cars, which he hopes will further expand his knowledge and also benefit his on track activity; both next season and beyond.
When pushed for a highlight of the season, Bruno mostly focuses on his first experience of driving some of the UK’s best and most famous circuits, which was always one of the key components of his aim to move over here to progress his motorsport career. He particularly singles out Donington Park as a favourite venue due to the way the circuit flows and the speed that he was able to carry in the car, particularly through the legendary Craner Curves section of the track. Other notable highlights included battling for the overall race lead at Castle Combe, and getting an opportunity to experience the infrequently used (at club level) long Brands Hatch GP layout.
One of the key challenges this season has been a lack of testing time, meaning that Bruno has often turned up to a track he’s never driven before and had to go straight into a fifteen minute qualifying session. Despite this, he has always approached the weekends with calmness and maturity, focusing only on factors within his control and ensuring that he gradually built his pace across the course of the event. We’re confident that with Bruno’s eagerness to learn, the more seat time he acquires the more his skill set will continue to increase.
We’ll leave the final word to Bruno, who spoke about the importance of taking a step back to reflect on achievements and progress, something that many athletes could benefit from over the course of a busy competitive season.
Sometimes you’re always so high frequency and so busy that you don’t have time to reflect on your achievements. But this time it happened just randomly in the assembly area at Silverstone. I remembered that back in 2017 I came to the British Grand Prix and after the race they allowed us to walk on the track. I took a selfie at Abbey corner and said to myself, “one day I will drive this corner...” and now I was sitting in the car waiting to go out and race around the track. It’s the reason that I’ll always have a special feeling for racing at Silverstone.
Want to read more about Bruno’s inspirational backstory and his motorsport journey from Brazil to the UK? Check out our other article here. To keep up with what he’s up to over the off-season and plans for next year, follow Bruno on social media where he plans to put out some special BTS content over the winter months.
All photos courtesy of Richard Towler Photography