Formula Renault 3.5 champion Robin Frijns believes that Kevin Magnussen and Antonio Felix da Costa will lead the fight to succeed him in the series this year.
Frijns took a surprise title in 2012, beating the strongest field in the championship's history as a rookie for Fortec Motorsports. The Dutchman, who has been signed as a Formula 1 reserve driver by Sauber, believes that 2012 race winners Magnussen (pictured) and da Costa will lead the running in FR3.5 next season.
"It's Magnussen and da Costa," Frijns said of the likely contenders for the title. "They were always up there this year, and they are both really quick.
"The speed that Kevin has is impressive. And he always goes for the win. He's capable of dominating races. I think da Costa is similar, and he won a lot of races last year. I don't think there will be as many guys going for the title as there was this year, but the ones at the front will be really quick and that's good for the championship."
Magnussen has dominated winter testing so far with DAMS, for which he will race this year. Macau Grand Prix winner da Costa, meanwhile, is expected to retain his Red Bull backing and remain with Arden Caterham. Da Costa finished fourth in the points and won four races in the series with the team, despite only contesting the second half of the season. Magnussen was seventh overall with Carlin.
Frijns offered some words of warning for both of his title tips though, pointing out that neither had to race with the pressure of going for the championship in FR3.5 last year.
"I don't know Kevin that well, but from what I saw maybe he takes too many risks. You can't win a championship if you only ever go for the win. Sometimes you have to settle for second place, third place, or even sixth if you have to. I don't know if he learned that this year, but we will see.
"It's the same for da Costa. He didn't have the pressure that we had going for the championship at the end of last year. He was free to do whatever he wanted and he won loads. He's really quick, but if he's in a position to fight for the championship he hasn't got that freedom anymore so he can't take as many risks."