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Since Portugal held its first Formula One grand prix in 1958, there have been five Portuguese drivers who have participated in Formula One as entrants. Of those five entrants, three went on to start grands prix races. The first Portuguese driver to take part in a Formula One race was Mário de Araújo Cabral at the 1959 Portuguese Grand Prix.

Casimiro de Oliveira

The first Portuguese driver to be officially listed as an entrant was Casimiro de Oliveira at the 1958 Portuguese Grand Prix, though he withdrew before competing in any session. De Oliveira had previously served as a test driver for Scuderia Ferrari in 1953. While testing the Ferrari 500 car that raced in the 1952 and 1953 Formula One seasons, he became the first Portuguese driver to drive a Formula One car.

Mário de Araújo Cabral

Mário de Araújo Cabral made his Formula One debut at the 1959 Portuguese Grand Prix, becoming the first Portuguese F1 driver to compete in a Formula One race. Driving a Cooper-Maserati, he finished tenth in his first grand prix. Over the next five years, Araújo Cabral participated in four more Formula One grands prix, including a second Portuguese Grand Prix in 1960. He also competed in four non-championship Formula One races during that time. His best result was a fourth place finish at the 1961 Pau Grand Prix. Araújo Cabral competed in his final Formula One event at the 1964 Italian Grand Prix.

Pedro Chaves

After a 27-year absence of Portuguese F1 drivers, Pedro Chaves joined the underfunded Coloni team for the 1991 season. Chaves failed to qualify for all thirteen grands prix he entered. He left Coloni prior to the first practice session of the 1991 Spanish Grand Prix due to non-payments and lack of testing time provided by the team. Following his brief Formula One career, Chaves established himself as a rally driver.

Pedro Lamy

Pedro Lamy made his Formula One debut in 1993, replacing the injured Alessandro Zanardi for the final four races of the season with Lotus. Ahead of the fifth race in 1994, Lamy suffered severe leg and wrist injuries during a testing crash while trialling new technical regulations implemented that year following two driver deaths at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. He returned to Formula One in 1995 with Minardi and went on to score the team’s only point that season at the Australian Grand Prix. Lamy achieved two more seasons with Minardi before leaving Formula One after 32 race starts to focus on sports car racing.

Tiago Monteiro

Tiago Monteiro became the first Portuguese Formula One driver in nearly ten years when he was signed by the Jordan team for the 2005 season. He scored points in his first season with a podium finish at the infamous 2005 United States Grand Prix, which only six cars participated in due to a withdrawal by Michelin-shod cars over safety concerns. Monteiro tallied further points with an eighth place finish in Belgium, breaking the rookie record for most consecutive finishes in a season. He remained in Formula One for a second season when Jordan was rebranded as Midland in 2006. However, an uncompetitive car meant he was unable to score any points. Monteiro has since established a career racing touring cars.

Couple Drivers, No sUCCESS

In total, there have been 88 Formula One entries by Portuguese drivers over the history of the world championship. Of those entries, the five drivers have started a combined 73 races. The best championship finish is 16th, achieved by Tiago Monteiro in 2005. In total, Portuguese F1 drivers have scored a total of 8 career points and achieved one podium finish. That lone podium was Monteiro’s third place at the 2005 United States Grand Prix, which would have never happened if more than 6 cars started in the race.

Pedro Lamy and Tiago Monteiro are the only drivers to have scored points, with Lamy scoring once in 1995 and Monteiro scoring seven times over 2005-2006. Monteiro has also accounted for the only podium finish by a Portuguese driver.

The lengthy gaps between Portuguese participation in Formula One demonstrate the difficulties for Portuguese drivers reaching the highest levels of open wheel racing. Economic factors and lack of infrastructure have provided barriers to entry over the decades. However, the recent successes of Tiago Monteiro and emerging talents like Antonio Felix da Costa provide optimism that Portugal can produce top level talents.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many Portuguese drivers have participated in Formula One?

There have been five Portuguese drivers who have participated in Formula One as entrants.

How many races have Portuguese F1 drivers started?

Portuguese F1 drivers have started a combined total of 73 races.

Who was the best Portuguese F1 driver?

Tiago Monteiro is considered the best of Portuguese F1 drivers, achieving the highest championship finish of 16th in 2005 and scoring the most points among Portuguese drivers.

How many podiums have Portuguese F1 drivers scored?

Portuguese F1 drivers have scored one podium finish, achieved by Tiago Monteiro at the 2005 United States Grand Prix.

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