A stunning pole position in treacherous wet conditions and a second-place finish on a drying Silverstone Grand Prix circuit in England have extended Kiwi Mitch Evans' lead in the International GP3 Series.
Evans earned four valuable points as the fastest qualifier on Saturday morning, when he slipped in a final lap that was an impressive 0.3s faster than anyone else. That outstanding effort immediately doubled his advantage over series rival Aaro Vainio to eight points - the Finn lined up alongside Evans on the front row.
However, the choice of Pirelli tyres for the changeable track conditions that have marred the British Formula 1 weekend proved critical in the 14-lap feature race.
The GP3 race late on Saturday afternoon was delayed because of heavy rain disruption during Formula 1 qualifying, but it had stopped raining and there was a dry racing line by the time the 27 young drivers lined up on the grid.
Evans' MW Arden team decided he'd start the race on a set of used slick tyres, anticipating that they'd come up to racing temperature faster in the tricky conditions. Most of those around Evans at the front of the grid opted to run new and therefore unscrubbed slick tyres.
From third on the grid, Portuguese driver Antonio Felix da Costa quickly demonstrated that new tyres were the better choice. Evans, starting on the left, sprinted into the lead as Vainio struggled to gain traction on the damp right hand side of the track.
Da Costa slotted in behind Evans, while Vainio dropped to third. At the third corner, Da Costa made a bold move around the outside of Evans to take the lead and conceded later that his tyre choice gave him an advantage throughout the race.
"I had new tyres and he didn't," was Felix da Costa's frank admission after the race. Evans fought back during the first few laps, holding the gap at a second as the two cars traded fastest lap times, but the high-speed Silverstone circuit caused graining on the tread of his older tyres.
Da Costa, who's just joined the prestigious Red Bull Junior programme, steadily pulled away in the second half of the race, crossing the line seven seconds ahead of Evans.
Da Costa said he attacked hard in the early laps, when Evans was vulnerable to a challenge because of the uncertain wet/dry track conditions.
"With the tricky conditions, it's always hard if you're the first to arrive. Mitch was leading for the first three corners - I could take him as a reference, so it was easy for me to stay close to him.
"When I was in the lead, not having to follow anyone, it just helped me more. To be honest, the hardest thing was to keep the car on the dry line, as there was only one."
Da Costa also gained two points for setting fastest lap and leapfrogs from ninth to third overall. He's the sixth different driver to win this season - Evans remains the only driver to have won twice.
"To beat a guy like Mitch from pole was always going to be hard, so I am really pleased," said Da Costa.
Going into Sunday's reverse grid race at Silverstone - the halfway point of the season - Evans now has 100 points to lead Vainio (89), while Da Costa and German driver Daniel Abt are both on 54 points. Abt finished fourth at Silverstone on Saturday.
Evans said he was happy with the result "though I would have liked to be first".
"I was obviously a bit of a guinea pig at the start and Antonio got close. When we entered Turn Three, I wasn't sure what to do as one line was dry, one was wet. Antonio attacked and it paid off for him.
"For the first few laps I held on to him and was feeling good, but when we got to the midway point, the tyres started to go off massively.
"We thought the track was going to be worse than it was - it dried out much faster than we thought. That really hurt us.
"We used a new set of tyres from qualifying, not a brand new set. In those conditions, it can be quite tricky to get temperature into a new set.
"We made that call and today, it didn't pay off - it was too dry," said Evans.