After a 24-year hiatus, the Portuguese Grand Prix will return this weekend at Portimao’s Algarve International Circuit.
Portugal first held a Grand Prix on the Oporto street circuit in 1958. A second race occurred there in 1960, after a brief foray to Monsanto, before a fruitful run at Estoril.
Over the years, Formula 1 in Portugal has provided us with some memorable moments, starting off with its maiden race.
1958 – Moss’ Sportsmanship Costs Him the Championship
The inaugural Portuguese Grand Prix saw British drivers Stirling Moss and Mike Hawthorn challenging for the Drivers’ Championship.
Boavista’s Oporto street circuit provided several challenges, such as exposed tram-lines, cobbles, drains and trees.
In qualifying, it was Moss who claimed Pole Position for Vanwall, with title rival Hawthorn second for Ferrari.
However, rainfall occurred overnight and the following morning, leaving the track damp with grey skies at the start of the race.
The early stages saw the two title contenders battle for the lead, before Moss was able to pull away and dominate proceedings on Lap 10.
As the race continued, Hawthorn began to struggle with his front brakes and pitted on Lap 35. However, he’d soon regain second place due to a cylinder leak on Jean Behra’s BRM.
Despite this, Hawthorn was still managing the brakes and was losing time to the lapped Vanwall of Stuart Lewis-Evans.
As Moss was on the final lap and approaching him, Hawthorn’s Ferrari went wide. Under the impression he’d lost third to Lewis-Evans, Hawthorn was visibly frustrated in the car.
Surprisingly, Moss let Hawthorn back through, enabling his rival to start the final lap before he took the chequered flag. Additionally, this meant that Lewis-Evans had to settle for third place.
However, on his final lap, Hawthorn spun at the same corner and promptly stalled. Although he was able to give himself a push start, he was initially disqualified was briefly driving in the wrong direction whilst doing so.
As a witness to the incident during the cool down lap, Moss protested to the stewards and argued that Hawthorn’s second place be reinstated.
After discussions took place late into the night, the Stewards agreed and Hawthorn regained his four point lead in the standings.
This act of sportsmanship would proved costly for Moss. Although he won the final race of the season in Morocco, Hawthorn pipped him to the title by a single point.
1984 – Lauda’s Crowning Glory in Estoril
The 1984 Formula 1 season saw McLaren dominate the season with their superior TAG engines. To the surprise of no one, they claimed win the Constructors’ Championship with ease.
So it was appropriate that Alain Prost and Niki Lauda were fighting for the Drivers’ title in the season finale at Estoril.
Prost knew he needed to win, and hope Lauda failed to follow him home in second, to win his first world title.
After qualifying second behind Nelson Piquet, and with Lauda down in a lowly 11th, these aspirations looked likely.
Despite dropping behind Keke Rosberg (Williams) and Nigel Mansell (Lotus), Prost quickly fought to take the race lead. With Lauda nowhere in sight, Prost was on course for his first F1 championship.
However, Lauda is famous for his nerve and reliance, and slowly climbed up the field. By mid-race he was up to third, after passing Toleman’s Ayrton Senna.
Then, with 17 laps remaining, Mansell gave up second place after retiring with brake failure.
Subsequently, Lauda would go one to finish second behind Prost and claim his third world title by half a point.
1985 – Senna’s Wet Weather Masterclass
The following season, the Portuguese Grand Prix hosted the second round of the championship and the weather was an absolute contrast.
Bright sunshine was replaced by grey skies and rainfall, which resulted in a slippery Estoril circuit.
Ayrton Senna started on Pole for Lotus and stayed there, increasing his lead with ease after every lap.
In comparison, several drivers struggled to keep their cars on the track, demonstrated how difficult the conditions were.
Senna went on to lap every driver expect for second-placed Michele Alboreto en route to his maiden F1 victory.
The win also ended a two-year drought for Team Lotus.
1989 – Black Flagged Mansell dents Senna’s Title Hopes
With four races remaining in the 1989 season, Ayrton Senna was a man under pressure.
20 points adrift of McLaren teammate Alain Prost, Senna knew the race in Portugal was a must win to keep his title hunt intact.
Despite starting from Pole, Senna lost the lead to Ferrari’s Gerhard Berger at the start.
As Berger pulled away, is wasn’t long before the second Ferrari of Nigel Mansell dispatched Senna for second place.
Then, as the pit phase approached ‘Il Leone’ executed a brilliant manoeuvre for the race lead.
As the Ferrari duo exited the final corner, they both approached some backmarkers. With Berger directly behind them, Mansell darted right and boxed in his teammate.
Unfortunately, the Briton’s fortunes took a turn for the worse. As Mansell entered the pits, he locked up his brakes and missed the Ferrari pit box.
Amongst the panic and confusion of the Ferrari mechanics, Mansell engaged reverse gear and completed the stop.
Subsequently, he dropped to fifth place and drove like a possessed man to make up for lost ground.
After quickly gaining fourth from Minardi’s Pierluigi Martini, Mansell set a new lap record of a 1:19.2.
The Italian went on to finish fifth behind eventual winner Gerhard Berger (Ferrari). pic.twitter.com/K5CFUcZGtv
— #BlackLivesMatter (@AaronLCollins97) October 21, 2020
But as he began to close up to Senna, the Stewards were showing Mansell the black flag for reversing in the pit lane.
Despite the disqualification and orders to park the car, Mansell carried on and soon after, the inevitable happen.
Coming out of the final corner, the pair passed more backmarkers and made their way towards Turn 1.
But while Senna, went back onto the racing line, Mansell stayed put lunged down the inside.
As Senna moved across to defend the position, the two collided and spun into the gravel trap.
The incident left Berger unchallenged to take the win. To add to Senna’s misery, Prost’s second place finish extended his championship lead to 24 points.
Stefan Johansson also claimed a remarkable third place for the new Onyx in only their fourth Grand Prix start.
Having gone fastest in Friday’s Pre-Qualifying, Johansson put his car in a respectable 12th place on the grid.
The Swede completed the full distance without making a pit stop. Furthermore, Johansson also benefited from the late retirements of Williams’ Thierry Boutsen and Riccardo Patrese.
Ironically, Johansson failed to qualify for the final three races of the 1989 season.
1992 – Patrese Takes Off at Estoril
The 1992 Portuguese Grand Prix saw Nigel Mansell claim another lights-to-flag victory aboard the all-conquering Williams-Renault.
Despite this, the race is best remembered for the crash which involved teammate Riccardo Patrese.
Midway through the race, Patrese was duelling with McLaren’s Gerhard Berger over third position, when the latter began to pull into the pits.
Believing that Berger was defending the position, Patrese tucked in behind to benefit from the slipstream.
But the Williams driver got too close, causing the two cars to touch.
Consequently, Patrese’s car was launched as his car became airbourne. The Italian narrowly missed the advertising board that hung over the pit straight., before grinding to a halt beside the pit wall.
Mercifully, no one was seriously injured, though there was severe amount of debris scattered across the track.
As a result, both Michael Schumacher and Pierluigi Martini suffered punctures which hampered their races.
Additionally, JJ Lehto had to retire from the race, after a piece of Patrese’s driveshaft landed in the cockpit, causing a minor leg injury.