Turning the big 4-0 today is former Grand Prix driver – and one of the few drivers ever to compete in Formula 1 in a pink racing helmet – Pedro Lamy!
Before Tiago Monteiro’s brief F1 foray in the mid-2000s, one would have to rewind the clock a further ten years to find Portugal’s last F1 representative. Pedro Lamy.
Born in the town of Aideia Galega as the son of a second-hand car dealer, Pedro started competing in motorcross before moving to karting and winning the 1988 national title.
He graduated to Formula Ford the following year and moved to the GM Lotus EuroSeries in 1990. He took over Rubens Barrichello’s seat at Draco Racing for the 1991 season and promptly won the title.
He moved to the German F3 championship, and won the title at his first attempted with 11 wins in 26 starts. This marked him as the man to watch, and he moved up to Formula 3000 with Crypton Engineering, which had taken the 1992 title with Luca Badoer at the wheel.
In a strong field comprising the likes of Gil de Ferran, Olivier Panis, Franck Lagorce and David Coulthard, he was instantly competitive and won third time out on the streets of Pau. Despite Panis and Lagorce splitting the majority of the wins between them, Pedro consistently racked up points throughout the season and was in with a shot at the title in the final round at Nogaro.
The title was his for the taking when Panis was taken out on the second lap, but Pedro’s luck deserted him almost instantly when two cars ahead of him collided and he was an innocent victim of their accident – the title would go to Panis.
During the 1993 season, Pedro made his F1 debut with Lotus at Monza in place of Alessandro Zanardi, who had a monster shunt at Eau Rouge during the Belgian GP weekend.
His solid performances and a good bit of sponsorship from Portugal meant he stayed on with the ailing team for the 1994 season, finishing in the top-ten in the opening two rounds at Sao Paulo and Aida. He collected JJ Lehto’s stalled Benetton at the start of the next round’s San Marino GP, with the loose wheels and debris flying over the trackside fencing and injuring several spectators – fortunately for Pedro, he emerged unhurt.
While testing Lotus’ newest car at the Silverstone circuit after the fourth round at Monaco, the Lotus 109 suffered a rear wing failure on the approach to the Abbey corner. The cat literally took off, flew through the catch fencing and into a pedestrian tunnel under the track on fire. incredibly, he survived the crash, but with two badly broken legs he was out for the rest of the season.
He didn’t return to F1 until the middle of 1995, where his more considerable sponsorship dollars resulted in Minardi stalwart Pierluigi Martini being given the heave-ho. In a high-attrition final race at Adelaide, he picked up the final point with sixth on the street circuit, which would prove to be the team’s last point until 1999!
This was enough to see him stay with the team for the 1996 season, but he was outclassed by rookie team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella and was out of F1 for good at the end of the year.
Lamy has since had a successful career in sports cars, winning the 1998 GT2 title in a Dodge Viper. He has won the Nurburgring 24 Hours race on three occasions, finished runner-up in the Le Mans 24 Hours and later competed for the all-conquering factory Peugeot squad in the Le Mans series.
[Original images via LAT, Le Mans Portugal, MMM Sport, MotorKultur, Sutton Images,The Cahier Archive]
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