Far from being the richest heritage in Formula 1 history, Portugal nonetheless has an interesting legacy in the sport. Attempts from the country's drivers to take part in a Grand Prix go back to the early 50's, but it was the end of the decade that brought the first one to fruition!
Mário de Araújo Cabral (also known as Nicha Cabral) was the first Portuguese driver to officially compete in Formula 1. His debut was — auspiciously — at the 1959 Portuguese Grand Prix, which took place in Monsanto, Lisbon. There was a long wait until the year 1991, for another Portugal representative in this sport to appear. He was Pedro Chaves, who unfortunately only managed to complete one season in the World Championship.
Two years later, 1993 saw Pedro Lamy enter Formula 1 for the Lotus team. The driver fell victim to bad luck though, suffering a serious injury in 1994 at the Silverstone circuit, resulting in fractures to his legs and wrist. Following the recovery period — and now donning Minardi team’s colours — he left his name in the record books, becoming the first ever Portuguese driver to score a point in a race (in Adelaide, Australia)!
One very important mention is due for Tiago Monteiro, who is — results-wise —unquestionably the best Portuguese driver in the history of F1! He stands alone as the only Portugal native to ever go up to the podium, achieving a respectable 3rd place in the strange Indianapolis race of 2005! The event holds a special place in F1 lore, since it's the only-ever race to merely have 6 drivers competing in it, due to a variety of backstage troubles.
As a final trivia note, the first Portuguese driver to officially get behind the wheel of an F1 race car was Casimiro de Oliveira, although he did not manage to make it past the practice session round. A noted racing enthusiast, Casimiro shared this passion with his brother: an unremarkable amateur racer who is none other than renowned Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira!
The Formula 1 Grand Prix returns to Portugal this coming October, from the 23rd to the 25th. Be a part of history and don't forget to also book a stay at VidaMar Algarve. We have a special upcoming offer on these dates and we'd love nothing more than to have you rest from the thrill of the races at our deluxe seafront resort! See you then!