Profile: Pedro Lamy

Nationality Portuguese
Date of Birth 20th March 1972
Teams Lotus (1993-94), Minardi (1995-96)
Races Entered 32
Races Started 32
Best Result 6th (AUS 1995)

Throughout Formula One’s rich history, over 800 drivers have entered a World Championship Grand Prix. Despite the success of European competitors, only five have been Portuguese. The first was Casimiro de Oliveira, who entered the 1958 Portuguese Grand Prix at Boavista, but withdrew on safety grounds. He was part of the organisation for the event, and was the brother of one of Portugal’s most famous film directors (as well as being a racing driver himself) Manoel de Oliveira.

A year later, Mário de Araújo Cabral entered the Portuguese Grand Prix for Scuderia Centro Sud, using a Cooper T51. He qualified second last, ahead of a certain Graham Hill, and finished in 10th place which would remain his best Formula One result; in his other entries, he failed to qualify for the 1963 Italian Grand Prix, and retired in the rest: the 1960 Portuguese Grand Prix, 1963 German Grand Prix and 1964 Italian Grand Prix. Since Casimiro never actually raced in 1958, Araújo Cabral was the first Portuguese driver to start a Grand Prix.

He remained the only one until 1993. Pedro Chaves attempted to be the next, but was driving the ill-fated Coloni C4, which never passed pre-qualifying throughout the entire 1991 season. Then came the 1993 Italian Grand Prix, and two rookies were on the grid; one was driving for Jordan, replacing the retiring Thierry Boutsen. His name was Marco Apicella, and his record in Formula One is well known as the shortest ever Formula One career, lasting from his grid spot (23rd on the grid) to the Variante del Rettifilo before getting collected in a collision that took out another 4 cars.

The other rookie was Pedro Lamy, the second Portuguese driver to start a Grand Prix.

Early Life

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José Pedro Mourão Lamy Viçoso was born in 20th of March 1972 in Alenquer, Portugal. In his formative years, the young Lamy showed interest in things that went fast. At the start of his racing career, Pedro Lamy took part in racing mini bikes and mini motocross. Throughout 1977, age 5, and 1981, age 9, Lamy won 4 times both the Portuguese Mini-Motocross Championship and the Portuguese Mini-Bikes Championship. Between 1981 and 1985, he tried a different type of racing: go-karts. Both in 1985 and 1986, Lamy finished 2nd in the Portuguese National Championship, before winning it in 1987 and 1988.

By now, Lamy seemed to show that he was ready to take it up a notch, and in 1989, he graduated to the Portuguese Formula Ford Championship. Taking 3 wins throughout the season, Lamy won the title in its first attempt. He also found himself a manager in Domingos Piedade, who had previously worked as manager for Fittipaldi, Senna and Alboreto. Piedade found the rising Portuguese star a drive in the European Formula Opel where, together with Diogo Castro Santos, he won the Nations Cup and finished 10th in the standings, scoring 30 points in his debut year. Changing teams from Derek Bell’s racing squad to Draco Racing meant he stayed another year in Formula Opel, and after winning the Nations Cup again with Diogo Castro Santos (also his main rival for the title), he scored 184 points across the season (23 more than Diogo) to win his first title outside Portugal. Over the fifteen races he won four times, scored four pole positions and four fastest laps, as well as taking ten podiums. Through every category Lamy had raced, he had won a title.

Lamy in German F3, on his way to the title.

Lamy in German F3, on his way to the title.

For 1992 Lamy signed for the Opel Team WTS in German F3, and in his first year in the series he dominated. In 26 races he won 11 times, finished on the podium 18 times, got 12 pole positions and 8 fastest laps. He scored an incredible 340 points across the year, 47 more than Marco Werner who finished in 2nd place, 72 more than 3rd placed driver, Sascha Maasen. Despite a retirement in the Monaco F3 Trophy which was won by his German F3 rival Marco Werner, the other two main F3 trophies yielded better results; at the Macau GP, Lamy finished 2nd behind Swedish ace Rickard Rydell, but ahead of future Formula One Champion Jacques Villeneuve. In the Masters of F3 at Zandvoort, he took victory ahead of fellow countryman Diogo Castro Santos and Brazilian Gil de Ferran.

International F3000 (1993)

After Formula Three, Lamy decided to graduate to F1’s main feeder series at the time, International Formula 3000. He signed for the Crypton Engineering squad, which the year before had taken Italian driver Luca Badoer to the title, who had just graduated to Formula One with the BMS Scuderia Italia team. Alongside Lamy, starting the season was Italian driver Guido Knycz, who later got replaced by Frenchman Nicolas Leboisettier. Despite Leboisettier finishing in 4th place at the second last round of the championship at Magny- Cours, none of his team-mates posed any threat to Lamy across the year. Qualifying 4th in his F3000 debut, Lamy finished in 2nd place in his debut, being beaten by the Monegasque driver Olivier Beretta. At Silverstone, in the second race, he qualified 6th, but he failed to start the race. A pole and victory followed at Pau, before the weekend at Enna-Pergusa came.

Enna-Pergusa, a high-speed circuit located on the island of Sicily, hosted the 4th round of the F3000 season. Pole position went to Michael Bartels ahead of his team-mate David Coulthard, while Lamy qualified in 4th place. Lamy passed Beretta and climbed into 3rd place and set to work chasing after the leading cars of the Pacific Racing squad. At the end of the 5th lap, Yvan Muller crashed at the final corner and destroyed his car, which was left standing in the grass just besides the track despite the risk it posed to the other competitors. This resulted in disaster, as Spanish driver Jordi Gené lost control of his car coming through the final corner and crashed into the stranded car of Muller. The red flag was displayed, and the race was restarted using the order of the last lap before the crash (lap 11).

Watch: Highlights of the Enna-Pergusa round of the 1993 F3000 championship.

Lamy jumped Coulthard on the start and began the chase on Bartels, who then made a mistake and spun into the wall and retirement, which allowed Lamy to take the lead. A mistake by Lamy made Coulthard close the gap and with two laps to go, Coulthard passed Lamy into the final chicane before he suddenly braked midway through the chicane, with Lamy touching the rear of the Pacific car and damaging his front wing. Somehow, Lamy thought he had won and started celebrating! Coulthard passed Lamy as they entered the final lap, and as if these last two laps weren’t already enough, Lamy made one final mistake; into the final corner and without full use of downforce, he lost control of his Reynard chassis and went into the tyre barrier, retiring on the final lap. Six points were lost, and they would be vital come the championship end.

A three race victory streak for Olivier Panis saw him distance away a little in the title fight; during that time, Lamy achieved a 2nd and pole position at Hockenheim, and two fourth places and the fastest laps at the Nürburgring and at Spa. After qualifying a lowly 8th at France, he raced to 3rd place at the end while Panis retired, and they entered the final round split by just a single point: 32 points to Panis, 31 to Lamy. Whilst Panis qualified in 2nd place, Lamy qualified a shocking 12th and during the race never seemed like troubling even the minor points, coming home a disappointing 16th place. Panis retired from the race, but because Lamy failed to trouble the scorers Panis won the title. Lamy’s mistakes at Enna-Pergusa and a shocking final race at Nogaro had cost him the title.

Lamy’s drop in performance in the final two rounds might have been explained through lack of motivation, as before those two races, he had made his Formula One debut at Monza for Castrol Team Lotus.

Formula One (1993-1996)

1993

The history behind Lotus’ final years is well known. A shadow of the glory days and a husk of the team Colin Chapman started back in 1959, Lotus’ last few seasons were plagued by financial troubles. Their solution? Pay-drivers, of course. Between 1990 and 1994, the team’s final years in Formula One, multiple pay-drivers were employed: Julian Bailey, Michael Bartels, Alessandro Zanardi, Philippe Adams, Éric Bernard and Mika Salo. They also employed Johnny Herbert and Mika Häkkinen, who scored many of the team’s points during this years. In fact, between 1991 and 1994 only two of the 28 points Lotus scored did not come from either Häkkinen or Herbert; Zanardi scored one and Bailey earned the other.

While some of those pay-drivers definitely had talent (like Zanardi and Salo), others like Bailey and Adams were clearly there only for their money. Which category does Lamy fit? Judging from his junior career before coming to Formula One, Lamy promised to have a fair bit of talent. But it was of course money – and connections to Domingos Piedade and Ayrton Senna, who befriended Lamy – that helped him secure a drive at the 1993 Italian Grand Prix, after Zanardi was sidelined due to a crash at Spa the previous weekend.

Lamy in his first appearance for Lotus at Monza, 1993.

Lamy in his first appearance for Lotus at Monza, 1993.

Qualifying didn’t go very well for Pedro. While his team-mate Herbert was in the crazy heights of 7th place, 2.5 seconds behind the Williams of Prost, Lamy was dead last, a whopping 2.6 seconds behind his team-mate, and 5.1 behind Prost. Following the start-line fracas, Lamy actually gained two places and finished lap 1 ahead of Fittipaldi and Alliot. Despite a poor qualifying, Lamy did a fairly good job in race day. He started to come through the order, and midway through the race had moved safely into the top 10, running in 9th. Before he retired due to electrical problems with just 4 laps to go, Lamy was running 10th after getting passed by Fittipaldi, who would then collect his team-mate Martini just come the finish line of the final lap of the race, being sent into a backflip over the finish line! Despite a poor qualifying, Lamy’s race pace was at least encouraging.

Lamy takes to the Estoril track in his first home Grand Prix. (Getty/Schlegelmilch)

Lamy takes to the Estoril track in his first home Grand Prix. (Getty/Schlegelmilch)

Next up was the Portuguese Grand Prix, Lamy’s home race. Only the third Portuguese driver to be entered in a Grand Prix, and only the second to start it, Lamy had home support. Qualifying was at least an improvement compared to Italy. Herbert qualified in 14th place, 3.6 seconds down on Damon Hill, while Lamy was 18th fastest, just 0.8 seconds behind Johnny. Once again, Lamy made a great start, and ended lap 1 in 15th place, two places behind his team-mate. Lamy would run as high as 10th during the race, before dropping to 13th place and then climbing back to 11th. There, on lap 61, Lamy made a mistake and spun into retirement.

So far, Lamy had not managed to light the world on fire, but at least he got assured he would be finishing the season with the British squad. At the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka the Lotus struggled for pace, and Herbert and Lamy were down in 19th and 20th respectively, with only one tenth separating them. Lamy and Herbert didn’t make much progress during race day, with Herbert running as high as 11th in one point of the race because of a strategy call, while Lamy ran close to the rear of the field. Despite that, after Herbert’s pitstop from 11th he came out just one place ahead of Lamy, who eventually found himself running ahead of his team-mate with 3 laps to go before misfortune struck the Portuguese driver. When coming out of Dunlop Curve, Lamy lost control of his Lotus 107 and crashed hard into the wall. The car was totalled, and Lamy was out and lost a valuable chance of beating his team-mate. Herbert would cross the finish line in 11th place, and Lamy would be classified in 13th.

Watch: Lamy’s incident at the 1993 Japanese Grand Prix.

The 1993 season finale was up next, and with both titles handed to the Williams team, it was all a matter of seeing who would win the race. Prost was retiring, and Senna – his former nemesis at McLaren – grabbed pole ahead of the already crowned world champion. Herbert was 20th, 4 seconds down. Lamy was 1.9 seconds slower than his team-mate in 23rd place. After some decent enough performances, Lamy was back to square one, getting soundly beaten by his team-mate over a lap.

Would Lamy improve come race day, like he had done before? He didn’t get the chance, as his race lasted an entire first corner, before a touch from Katayama sent him airborne (an incident similar to the Maldonado/Gutierrez collision at the 2014 British Grand Prix), and the suspension on the Lotus was broken. He did a lazy spin trying to accelerate coming out of the first corner, and retired on the spot. Lamy’s debut season in Formula One had come to a very disappointing end after four mostly unimpressive performances. Even so, his money was clearly helpful and despite the indifferent performances shown in late 1993, Lamy was signed by Lotus for a full season in 1994. Lotus once again brought an updated 107 chassis, dubbed the 107C, before introducing the 108 later on the season. His team-mate would, once again, be Johnny Herbert.

Lotus knew how deep in trouble they were. The 107 was now essentially a three year old design, and it was long past its competitive edge. 1994 would be their last year.

1994

For 1994, Scuderia Italia left Formula One, and two new teams joined: Simtek and Pacific. With 28 cars now competing for the 26 places on the grid, two of them wouldn’t qualify for the race. With its aging design, it was a big question if Lotus could qualify for races. The concerns turned out to be unfounded, as the Pacific design turned out to be completely hopeless and so Lotus were largely safe, despite some troubles from Simtek early on the season.

Retained by Lotus for 1994, Lamy races the 107C at Interlagos. (Pascal Rondeau)

Retained by Lotus for 1994, Lamy races the 107C at Interlagos. (Pascal Rondeau)

The season opener came at Interlagos, the 1994 Brazilian Grand Prix. Ayrton Senna, now driving for Williams, started on pole, while the Lotus were 3.5 and 4 seconds down respectively. Herbert outqualified Lamy once again, 21st to 24th place. Herbert came through the field to run as high as 8th place, while Lamy was running all race behind his team-mate. Through retirements, Herbert came home in 7th place, just one place away from points, while Lamy managed 10th albeit a full lap down on his team-mate. The 1994 season began for Lamy just as 1993 ended: getting comprehensively beaten by Herbert, and making himself no favours in F1. Next on the agenda was the Pacific Grand Prix, and the Lotus were stranded only ahead of the Simteks (but only just ahead of Brabham, who was one tenth away) and the hopeless Pacific squad. Herbert was 23rd, 4.2 seconds behind Senna, and Lamy was just behind in 24th, 0.2 seconds away from his team-mate. Lamy made a decent start and ran ahead of Herbert until lap 29. The two Lotuses would trade places again, and Herbert would come home in 7th place again with Lamy one place behind in 8th, but again a lap down on his team-mate. So, while the 107C was not competitive, it somewhat made up for it by running reliably.

Then came one of the darkest weekends in the history of Formula One: the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, held at Imola. The history of this weekend is known by most motorsport fans.

Lamy, sadly, became part of the history of the weekend, which started badly when Rubens Barrichello’s Jordan crashed hard in Friday qualifying at the Variante Bassa corner. Then came the Saturday session, and the weekend took a turn for the worse when the front wing on Roland Ratzenberger’s Simtek failed coming through the fast Villeneuve corner. The Simtek went straight into the barrier, and the impact was deadly. Qualifying continued with great sadness, and Senna was once again on pole position, with the Lotus in 20th and 22nd, with Herbert ahead of Lamy again, split by 2 tenths.

Lamy in his stricken Lotus, Imola '94. He collided with the stalled Benetton of Lehto, bringing out the safety car. (F1-Photo.com)

Lamy in his stricken Lotus, Imola ’94. He collided with the stalled Benetton of Lehto, bringing out the safety car. (F1-Photo.com)

Sunday’s race continued as normal, and the lights were green at San Marino where the Benetton of JJ Lehto, who qualified in 5th place, stalled on the grid. Lamy did not see the stopped Benetton on the race track, and careened straight into the back of the Benetton rear end. The bodywork that flew from the crash went into the crowd, and 9 people suffered minor injuries. Due to the crash the safety car was deployed, leading the race until lap 4, when it came in. On lap 5, coming into Tamburello, Ayrton Senna’s Williams veered left into the concrete wall at roughly 300km/h. The red flag was brought out immediately, and the race was stopped. After the race was resumed, Berger took the lead, but it was Schumacher who won the race, ahead of Larini (in his first podium in Formula One) and Häkkinen. Two hours and 20 minutes after the race was over, 3 time World Champion Ayrton Senna was pronounced dead, and the whole world of Formula One was left in shock by the events at Imola that weekend. Lamy, a close friend of Senna’s, was shaken by the whole ordeal – and it wasn’t just because of his crash.

But the world of Formula One got shaken again at the next race, at the Principality of Monaco. During the first free practice session of the weekend, Sauber driver Karl Wendlinger crashed hard at the Nouvelle Chicane, and was left in a coma for several weeks; the Sauber team elected to not take part during the rest of the weekend, which meant that every car would qualify for the race. Herbert outqualified Lamy once again with the Brit managing 16th fastest in qualifying, with Lamy in 19th place, 1.4 seconds down on Herbert. A chaotic first lap resulted in Martini, Morbidelli, Hill and Häkkinen retiring. Despite this, Lamy found himself running only in 18th place by the end of lap, gaining one place despite the retirements as he was passed by Bernard, Brabham and Panis. Herbert, on the contrary, was 11th; with overtaking being notoriously difficult around the Monaco circuit, it wasn’t going to be an easy afternoon for Lamy.

During the entire race, Lamy only ran ahead of the Pacifics of Gachot and Belmondo, eventually being the last classified finisher in 11th place, five laps down on Schumacher, and two full laps down on the next classified driver, Érik Comas. Herbert ran as high as 8th place during the race, and was running 9th when the gearbox failed him. Some say Monaco is the track where driver’s real skill is shown; if true, then Lamy’s race didn’t do him any favours for his reputation, and his junior record wasn’t helping him in F1 whatsoever. He was hardly disgracing himself, but in all the races he did for Lotus between 1993 and 1994, he got outqualified by Herbert, and only in one race he ran more competitively than Herbert.

Despite having signed for the entire season for Lotus, Lamy’s season ended during a private test in Silverstone, where Lamy was testing some new parts for the car to meet the new the safety regulations that were introduced after Imola. In an ironic twist of fate, the rear spoiler of his Lotus failed and Lamy crashed hard at Abbey, breaking both legs and both wrists. He was sidelined for well over a year; by the time he had recovered from his injuries, Team Lotus was no more. Lamy was able to return to Formula One midway through 1995, when another backmarker squad in need of money hired him to replace the departing Pierluigi Martini: Minardi.

1995

One of the bigger questions after a heavy injury is whether a driver can return to full fitness and be as competitive as before. After a series of operations and physio sessions, Lamy clambered back behind the wheel when he tested for Minardi in late 1994, eventually returning to racing mid-season for the team in 1995.

The Minardi 1995 chassis is perhaps a great example of a well-designed chassis, but hindered by an underpowered engine. For the new season, Minardi signed a contract with Mugen Honda to supply them with engines which the new M195 was designed around. But before the season opener at Brazil came along, Flavio Briatore convinced Mugen to supply his recently-acquired team Ligier instead, leaving Minardi with no engine contract for 1995. Minardi had to buy the old and gutless Ford ED V8 engine and had to quickly alter the chassis to fit the new engine. Having expected a power disadvantage, Minardi enlisted Magneti Marelli to improve the engine management systems.

Now at Minardi, Lamy navigates the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

Now at Minardi, Lamy navigates the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

Lamy’s debut came at a circuit where horsepower wasn’t very important: the Hungaroring. His team-mate was the 1992 International F3000 champion Italian Luca Badoer, who after a troubled debut in 1993 with Lola, returned in 1995 with Minardi. Badoer showed the car was competitive around the Hungaroring, putting the car in 12th on the grid, with Lamy three places behind in 15th. Lamy dropped a place at the start, but by lap 22, had caught and passed his team-mate. Despite that, Badoer repassed Lamy and finished in 8th place at the end, with the Portuguese driver a lap behind him in 9th. Lamy’s return to Formula One was startlingly similar to his performance before his injury; he was outqualified and outraced, finishing a lap down on his team-mate. At Spa-Francorchamps, Lamy outqualified his team-mate for the first time in his career, putting his Minardi in 17th while Badoer was 19th. The 1995 Belgian Grand Prix is remembered as a typical “Regenmeister” drive by Michael Schumacher in the wet, but further down the field, Lamy ran the entire race ahead of Badoer until the Italian retired after crashing out. Lamy came home 10th, on the same lap as the leaders, and just 13 seconds behind Olivier Panis in the Ligier with the Mugen Honda engine Minardi should have used in 1995. This was arguably Lamy’s best drive in Formula One so far, and at a track where driver talent is showcased, especially in such tough and changing conditions.

At Minardi’s home race at Monza, Badoer and Lamy qualified 19th and 20th respectively. Monza, being a power circuit, severely hampered the underpowered Minardis. Lamy’s race didn’t last a lap, retiring with a transmission failure, while Badoer crashed out in lap 26. The next race was Lamy’s second start at his home grand prix, held at Estoril. He qualified 17th, outqualifying Badoer again, who was one place behind in 18th. Sadly, his race didn’t last long. On lap 7, his Minardi broke down when it suffered a gearbox failure.

In the next three consecutive Grands Prix, Lamy qualified 16th at the European Grand Prix, where he finished two places ahead of his team-mate in 9th, 14th at the Pacific Grand Prix, where he finished two places again ahead of Badoer in 13th and 17th at the Japanese Grand Prix, finishing in 11th, two places behind his team-mate who had run as high as 7th during the race.

Then came the season finale, the 1995 Australian Grand Prix. Schumacher had already won his second consecutive world title, and during practice for the race, the world of F1 was shaken again, as McLaren driver Mika Häkkinen suffered a puncture while entering the Brewery Bend, causing him to crash dramatically. An emergency tracheotomy was performed on site, which saved Mika. He would, of course, not start the race. For the first time in 3 races, Lamy was outqualified by Badoer and would start 17th, but Badoer wouldn’t start the race. During the formation lap, the gearbox on the Minardi failed and Badoer would be unable to take 15th on the grid for what would be one of Formula One’s craziest Grands Prix.

As the race got underway, cars started to drop out. Montermini’s gearbox failed in his Pacific-Ford and was followed to the garages by Karl Wendlinger, who had been brought by Sauber to race at Japan and at Adelaide. The Austrian suffered from a lack of fitness following his Monaco crash the previous year, and retired from fatigue. Then Taki Inoue, true to character, spun off.

Afterwards came perhaps two of the most embarrassing moments in Formula One. On lap 19 out of the 81 that was to be run, the leading Coulthard (who had stolen the lead from his team-mate, polesitter Damon Hill) came into the pitlane too fast, locked up his tyres, and ploughed into the pitwall! To further increase his embarrassment, he claimed he had over-revved his engine which had made him lose control. Two laps later, Roberto Moreno performed a carbon copy of Coulthard’s faux pas and was out as well. People must have started thinking if that pitlane entrance was cursed.

Lamy at Adelaide, 1995. This was where he claimed his first and only world championship point.

Lamy at Adelaide, 1995. This was where he claimed his first and only world championship point.

By now, Lamy was running already in 13th place, and by lap 21 only 17 cars were still in the race. During the next 10 laps, Jean Alesi, Michael Schumacher and Martin Brundle crashed out, while Gerhard Berger suffered an engine failure. These events promoted Lamy to 11th place, who then passed Katayama on track before climbing to 9th when Frentzen retired with a gearbox failure. Lamy then passed and got repassed by Salo fighting for 7th place, with the Finn prevailing. The attrition continued and two of the drivers running ahead of Lamy retired; Irvine suffered an engine failure in lap 62 and his erstwhile team-mate Herbert was plagued by a transmission problem in lap 69. Katayama was the last man to retire on lap 70, and despite being three laps down on Damon Hill (who was in turn 2 laps ahead of everyone else), Pedro Lamy was running in the points! He held on to finish in 6th place, scoring Minardi’s only point of the season and the first ever point for a Portuguese driver in Formula One. Lamy’s race wasn’t without an embarrassing moment though; while running in 13th place, Lamy half-spun, and when he tried to rejoin the track, he spun again! However, this was the only blot on his copybook that afternoon.

Watch: Lamy’s twin-spin en route to a point at the 1995 Australian Grand Prix.

1996

Lamy’s performances over the last part of 1995 guaranteed him a contract extension at Minardi for 1996, where the team used an updated version of the previous year’s chassis, dubbed the M195B. This was again powered by the Ford ED V8 engine, so power was clearly still a problem for the new season. Lamy would have three team-mates throughout the year: young Italian Giancarlo Fisichella, young Brazilian Tarso Marques and Italian “gentleman driver” Giovanni Lavaggi.

The first race of the year took place in Australia, the same country where 1995 had ended. Instead of the now-customary Adelaide venue, F1 would race at Melbourne for the first time. Jacques Villeneuve was on pole position in his first race for Williams in Formula One, with the 1995 Indy 500 winner impressing first-time out. While both Fortis failed to qualify for the race thanks to the newly introduced 107% rule, the Minardi’s lined up 16th and 17th, Fisichella ahead of Lamy. They both made good starts, and by the end of lap 1, Lamy was 15th and Fisichella 13th. Despite that, Lamy struggled during the race. By lap 9, he was running in last, where he stayed until he retired due to a problem with his safety belt. It was no means to start his season, but “Fisi” couldn’t do much better. After his good start, he eventually found himself just 1 position ahead of Lamy, retiring a few laps before Lamy due to a clutch failure.

Lamy put in a strong performance at Interlagos in '96, running strongly before retiring. (LAT)

Lamy put in a strong performance at Interlagos in ’96, running strongly before retiring. (LAT)

At Interlagos, Marques replaced Fisichella, and Lamy outqualified the Brazilian who failed to set a time. Lamy was last of the cars that set a time besides the glacial Fortis, coming in 1.1 seconds slower than Ricardo Rosset. Marques showed his inexperience as he spun off during the first lap, while Lamy made a special start, and was running 11th at the end of the first lap! That didn’t last long though, and by the time they came through Junção at the end of the second lap, he was back in 20th as Ukyo Katayama had sent him into a spin. Due to the retirements across the race, Lamy eventually finished the race in 10th place, 3 laps down on Damon Hill. At the next race at Buenos Aires (in which Pedro Diniz flipped Luca Badoer before subsequently catching fire) Lamy qualified 19th for the race, a whopping 5 places behind Tarso Marques, but while Marques retired from a collision on the 33rd lap while running in 12th place, Lamy climbed through the field and before Marques retired, found himself ahead of his team-mate, eventually retiring on lap 39 due to a transmission failure.

The European Grand Prix marked F1’s first foray into Europe in 1996, and Fisichella had returned as Lamy’s team-mate. They qualified 18th and 19th, with the Italian outqualifying Lamy again, although the Portuguese driver ran most of the race ahead of Fisichella, both eventually being the last two classified runners in the race in 12th and 13th. Imola marked Lamy’s first foray into the circuit since the events of 1994, and he outqualified Fisichella for the first time, 18th to 19th. Lamy ran the early part of the race ahead of Fisichella, but the Italian overhauled him before retiring on lap 30 due to an engine failure. Lamy came home in 9th place, 2 laps down on the winner.

The next race was the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix, known as one of the most memorable races of the modern age of Formula One. Lamy was outqualified by Fisichella on a track where the sleek M195B chassis could have been at least competitive, but the fact it was now over one year old showed. Lamy began 19th, with Fisichella just ahead in 18th. In a race held in changing conditions and littered with accidents and mechanical failures, only three cars crossed the finish line; Olivier Panis took an unlikely victory in his Ligier, becoming the last French driver to win a Grand Prix in a French car. He came home five seconds ahead of David Coulthard and thirty-eight ahead of Lamy’s former team-mate Johnny Herbert. Five cars retired on lap one alone, including both Minardis and world champion Michael Schumacher, now driving for Ferrari. Katayama, Rosset, Diniz, Berger, Brundle, Hill, Badoer, Alesi and Villeneuve all retired, while Irvine, Häkkinen and Salo were all classified despite not having finished the race.

Lamy rounds the hairpin at Montreal in '96.

Lamy rounds the hairpin at Montreal in ’96.

The 1996 Spanish Grand Prix was next, and the race was held under torrential rain. Lamy outqualified Fisichella, 18th to 19th (positions the Minardis were quite familiar with throughout its history in Formula One), but on race day, it was Schumacher’s epic drive in the rain that stole all headlines, finishing a mammoth 45 seconds ahead of Alesi and Villeneuve. Lamy’s race didn’t last one lap; he collided with Ricardo Rosset and was out. Fisichella’s race lasted one more lap until he also crashed, colliding with Olivier Panis. The Canadian Grand Prix saw Fisichella qualify 16th, outqualifying Lamy by three places. Lamy made a poor start and found himself running in last place by the end of the first lap, behind the Fortis. Lamy passed both Forti drivers, and eventually found himself ahead of Fisichella, before getting passed again by the Italian and subsequently retiring on lap 44. Fisichella finished in 8th place, just two places adrift from scoring points. At the French Grand Prix, Fisichella continued to outqualify Lamy, 17th to 18th on the grid. Fisichella’s race lasted just two laps before he was forced to retire with a fuel pump issue, while Lamy was the last classified driver in 12th. Lamy’s performances were worrying, and spent most of the race running behind the Forti of Badoer.

The British Grand Prix proved to be the last time the Fortis would show up to a race, and thereafter the grid was decreased to just 20 cars. Rosset didn’t set a time in qualifying, and Lamy got outqualified by Fisichella once again. Until he retired from a gearbox failure, Lamy spent the majority of the race in last place behind Fisichella, who would finish in 11th place.

The long blast through the forests at Hockenheim followed, and the Minardi chassis/engine combination struggled thanks to the underpowered Ford V8 engine stuck in the back of the M195B. Lamy found himself with a brand new team-mate: Italian nobleman Giovanni Lavaggi, nicknamed “Johnny Carwash” within the paddock, who in 1995 had done 4 races with Pacific, qualifying last in three of them, and second-last in the other. Lavaggi’s junior career was not impressive at all. In the 1991 season of F3000, he failed to qualify for all but two races, grabbing a best result of 12th place in the final season of the race at Nogaro. His biggest career result until this point in time was finishing 7th overall and second in his class at the 1992 24 Hours of Le Mans, driving a Porsche 962CK6 together with Manuel Reuter and John Nielsen.

Lavaggi proved no match to Pedro Lamy, and showed he was only there because of his money. In his first outing with Minardi, Lavaggi failed to qualify by around two-tenths of a second (he was outside the 107% range of the pole time), a massive 1.9 seconds slower than Lamy on a track where a car’s performance was much more important than driving talent. Lamy although only qualified ahead of the Footwork of Ricardo Rosset. A poor start from Katayama saw Lamy climb into 16th and then into 15th as Panis made a mistake on lap 2. Lamy, despite falling to last at one point, found himself then running ahead of the Sauber of Herbert and the Jordan of Brundle, but while Herbert retired, Brundle naturally passed Lamy on track to bump him down to last. He finished in 12th place, the only man who was two laps down on race winner Damon Hill.

The year before, Hungary had proven to be the track where the Minardi performed the best, but the aging chassis couldn’t match its more advanced counterparts around the twisty Hungaroring circuit, located on the outskirts of Budapest. Both Minardis locked out the last row of the grid, with Lamy outqualifying Lavaggi by almost a full second. Lamy ran the entire race in second last, only ahead of Lavaggi, until he retired on lap 24 from a suspension problem. Lavaggi was classified in 10th place, where he was running, before he spun off on lap 69 out of 77.

Spa-Francorchamps saw the gap increase once again between the Minardi team-mates, but they were both the slowest again, with Lavaggi an incredible 1.8 seconds off Lamy’s time, who himself was almost half a second slower than Rosset; the Italian failed to qualify for the second time in three races. A collision at La Source in the first lap, a sight fairly synonymous with Spa-Francorchamps, put Panis and the two Saubers of Herbert and Frentzen out of the race, as Barrichello touched Irvine and was forced to pit for repairs, and was running last. Lamy emerged from the chaos in 15th place before finding himself ahead of Rosset and Diniz (and even in some points ahead of Damon Hill and Gerhard Berger). However, the Footwork driver passed Lamy, and the Portuguese finished in 10th place, a lap down on the Ferrari of Schumacher.

In the Italian Grand Prix, Lavaggi at least qualified, but once again was slowest on the grid, almost a full second down on Lamy, who was 18th on the grid, ahead of the Footwork of Rosset. Lamy lost a place to Rosset on the start, and at the end of lap 2 was running behind Lavaggi which he would continue to do for 4 entire laps! Lavaggi retired in the lap Lamy passed him, as his Ford V8 cried enough. Lamy was in 12th place – running ahead of Katayama – at the time when he retired, where he also suffered an engine failure.

Estoril, '96. Lamy takes part in his final home race.

Estoril, ’96. Lamy takes part in his final home race.

Next up was Lamy’s home race at Estoril. The Minardis were once again slowest in qualifying with Lamy 1.1 seconds ahead of Lavaggi, and 4 seconds down on the pole time of Damon Hill. Amazingly, he ran the entire race behind his team-mate Giovanni Lavaggi; both cars finished 5 laps down in 15th and 16th. It was the only time Lavaggi finished ahead of a team-mate when both finished, and at his Portuguese team-mate’s home race. Lamy knew his time in Formula One was coming to an end with performances like this.

The final race of the year came, and Damon Hill was crowned Formula One World Champion for the only time in his career, becoming the first ever son of a champion to become himself World Champion. Lavaggi was 1.9 seconds slower than Lamy on qualifying, and received another “DNQ” to his name, while Lamy was 18th fastest, ahead of Rosset. He ran the entire race ahead of Rosset, and finished what would be his final race in Formula One in 12th place, two laps down on Damon Hill.

To no one’s surprise, Lamy’s contract was not renewed for 1997, but he himself was relieved to it. According to Lamy:

“[I was] bored with Formula One, and I didn’t want to continue to there. I wanted to enjoy my life again, so I found a new chance to do that in GT racing.”

It’s a mystery to why Lamy did not perform to the level he did back in junior racing. Was he always bored with Formula One? He did show some signs of having potential across the three years he raced in the world’s top single seaters series, and it’s a big question to how much the crash at Silverstone in 1994 hampered him. Panis’ crash in 1997 is usually an example of a discussion of an injury creating an impact to a driver’s skill, and it can be argued that Lamy’s crash was even worse than Panis’, and he took a longer time to recover compared to Olivier. Still, Lamy can be proud of being the first ever Portuguese driver to score points in Formula One, a feat that was only matched by Tiago Monteiro in 2005.

After Formula One

Lamy signed with Schübel Rennsport for the first season of the FIA GT Championshp, where he would finish 33rd in the standings with a single point in his debut race at Hockenheim. He only did the first two races in 1997 with Schübel, later returning to action at the 1997 Suzuka 1000km later in the year with the official Porsche squad, driving with Allan McNish and former F1 driver Yannick Dalmas. According to Lamy, this race was the one where he knew there were other things besides Formula One. The trio was classified in 10th place, the leading Porsche 911 in the standings, seven laps down on the Mercedes CLK GTR that won the race. He also participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time, driving the Porsche 911 GT1 he drove in the first two rounds of the FIA GT Championship, entered by Schübel Rennsport, together with Armin Hahne and Patrice Goueslard. They were classified in 5th place at the end of the 24 Hours, and 3rd in class. In his first outing at Le Mans, Lamy went straight onto the podium in the GT1 class.

Lamy piloting the #51 Oreca Viper, which he shared with Olivier Beretta en route to the GT2 title.

Lamy piloting the #51 Oreca Viper, which he shared with Olivier Beretta en route to the GT2 title.

For 1998, Lamy was signed by the Oreca squad to run in the GT2 category in the FIA GT Championship, driving the Chrysler Viper GTS-R. The Oreca team dominated the GT2 class, winning every race but two; together with team-mate Olivier Beretta, the duo were crowned the GT2 FIA GT Champions, the first major title for Lamy since he won the 1992 German F3 title. In his second outing at Le Mans, Lamy finished 13th overall and 2nd in class, behind the other Oreca Viper, sharing a drive with his FIA GT team-mate Beretta and American Tommy Archer.

For 1999, Lamy was picked up by the AMG Mercedes team, who had upgraded the CLK GTR car into the Mercedes CLR with the intention of winning the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans, something Mercedes had failed with CLK GTR the years before. The events that would later unfold at the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans are infamous.

Mercedes entered 3 cars in the event: The #4, driven by Jean Marc-Gounon, Marcel Tiemann and Mark Webber; the #5, driven by Christophe Bouchut, Peter Dumbreck and Nick Heidfeld; and the #6 Mercedes, which was shared by Franck Lagorce, Pedro Lamy and Bernd Schneider. With three strong teams, Mercedes seemed like a strong contender for overall victory. The CLR, unlike its processor the CLK GTR, was run in the LMGTP class, featuring several design chances compared to the CLK GTR, which was a GT1 car. It was lighter, it had better aerodynamics to increase top speed, tailor-made for Le Mans. Before reaching Le Mans, the car had run approximately 35,000km without any major failure. The Mercedes personnel and drivers had no idea what they would eventually face at Le Mans. In the pre-qualifying for the race, the #6 Mercedes of Lamy was the fastest of the 3 Mercedes, placing in 6th place, while the #4 and #5 were 14th and 15th respectively. One of the Mercedes suffered a setback during pre-qualifying though, as a suspension failure hit the car driven by Mark Webber. It was the first major failure suffered by the CLR.

The #6 Mercedes CLR at Le Mans, driven by Lamy, Bernd Schneider and Franck Lagorce. The car was retired following the dramatic accident of the #5. (John Brooks)

The #6 Mercedes CLR at Le Mans, driven by Lamy, Bernd Schneider and Franck Lagorce. The car was retired following the dramatic accident of the #5. (John Brooks)

Several weeks later after pre-qualifying, it was time for the practice and qualifying sessions which would determine the grid for the 67th running of the great race. At the end of the first day, the Mercedes found themselves 4 seconds down on the leading Toyota, 5th, 6th and 8th on the grid. In the start of the day two of the qualifying session, the Mercedes #4, driven by Mark Webber at the time, was following the Audi of Frank Biela coming up to the Indianapolis corner. When Webber left the slipstream of the Audi to pass, the front end of the car suddenly lifted and went airborne, doing several backflips before landing on the ground and smashing into the barriers. The accident was not caught by television cameras, but Mercedes were aghast. The qualifying session was over for the #4 and the car left destroyed. Webber was taken to the hospital with multiple aches and pains, but was eventually cleared to race on Saturday. The #4 would eventually qualify in 10th place, the #5 in 7th and the #6 of Lamy qualified in 4th, after Bernd Schneider pulled an astonishing lap from the car to just be 2 seconds of the Toyota who was on pole. The #4 Mercedes was brought back to the pits, and Mercedes announced the car would be repaired. The drivers – especially Webber- had no idea what had just happened; the Australian attempted to relay feedback to his engineers, who were similarly struck by disbelief.

Miraculously, the #4 was repaired, and was on the warm-up come Saturday morning. The Mercedes were running in formation coming down the Hunaudieres straight, down into Mulsanne. As Webber approached Mulsanne, it happened again. The car’s nose lifted straight into the air, it did a backflip and it landed at the ground, again. This time though, TV had caught everything. Mercedes had no way to deny that the car had flipped. Webber was again totally fine, just completely shaken and angry at what had happened not once, but twice. It would be the last time Webber raced at Le Mans until 2014, when he returned with Porsche. The #4 Mercedes was a total write off, and it would fail to start the race.

On the back of this, Mercedes made some adjustments to the cars. The team made a call to then-McLaren chief designer Adrian Newey after Webber’s accident, hoping for insight into an emergency fix. They added dive planes into the fenders to try to avoid the front end going light and sustaining lift, and the drivers were instructed to not follow other cars closely. Considering the nature of La Sarthe, where a slipstream is key to making overtakes, Mercedes would be hindered from the start.

Only the #5 and the #6 Mercedes started the race. Schneider, in the #6, climbed into 3rd early on, while Bouchut was 4th after making some inroads as well. During the driver swap periods, Schneider and Bouchut reported the cars were running well, and handed the #5 and #6 to Dumbreck and Lagorce respectively. Dumbreck then had contact with one of the Porsche 911 GT2, but continued with what seemed no damage to the car. On lap 76, while catching and going for the overtake on the Toyota driven by ex-F1 driver Thierry Boutsen, the CLR of the Scottish driver suddenly lifted into the air after running over a bump at the same place Webber had suffered a flip in qualifying, flipping 3 times before landing in the wooded area right beside the circuit. This was all caught on live television. Lagorce, in the #6 Mercedes, was called into the pits to retire, but he had already made the decision to do that having watched Dumbreck flip first-hand. According to Webber, the team took 20 minutes to know if Dumbreck was alright, which he was, although he lost consciousness for a bit after the contact with the ground in the woods. The drivers, including Lamy, were all visibly shaken from what had just happened. Lamy, perhaps luckily, didn’t get to drive the car in the race, later saying that his 1999 race at Le Mans was just “disappointing in all senses of the word”, thanks to the series of events. BMW went on to win the race ahead of Toyota, but the focus was on the CLR incidents.

The cause of the crashes has never been revealed by Mercedes. Mercedes did a test in an airfield to try to investigate the causes of the crashes, but never published the results. The only thing known was that Mercedes withdrew the rest of its 1999 program, with the remaining CLRs kept under wraps, making rare appearances in the public eye.

Lamy was kept by Mercedes in 2000, and would be driving in the new DTM series for Team Rosberg, run by the 1982 F1 champion Keke Rosberg. Managing a best result of two 4th places in the two Nürburgring races, Lamy scored 39 points across the season to finish 13th in the standings. He also did the first two rounds of the 2001 season, finishing 6th twice and 17th in the standings with 12 points. It was also in 2001 when Lamy took the first of his 5 wins at the “Green Hell”, in the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring, sharing his victory with Peter Zakowski and Michael Bartels in the Zakspeed-run Dodge Viper. He would go on to win the race again in 2002 with Zakowski and Robert Lechner in the Zakspeed Viper once more, before taking victory in the BMW M3 GTR in 2004 together with Dirk Müller, Jorg Müller and Hans-Joachim Stuck, and in 2005 with Andy Priaulx, Duncan Huisman and Boris Said. He returned to winning ways with BMW again in 2010, partnering Jörg Muller, Uwe Alzen and Augusto Farfus in the M3 GT2. Together with Timo Bernhard and Marcel Tiemann, he is the driver with the most victories at the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring, being crowned “King of the Green Hell” five times.

In 2001, Lamy entered the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the Oreca-run Team Playstation, driving a Chrysler LMP in the LMP900 class. Together with former FIA GT team-mate Olivier Beretta and ex-F1 driver Karl Wendlinger they finished 5th overall, and 3rd in class. The same team returned in 2002, with Érik Comas replacing Wendlinger, once again in 5th place and 4th overall in the LMP900 class.

Lamy in the German V8Star series, racing the Zakspeed-run Jaguar.

Lamy in the German V8Star series, racing the Zakspeed-run Jaguar.

Between 2002 and 2003, Lamy raced for Zakspeed, the team he won the 24 Hours of Nürburgring with, in the V8Star Series. Lamy took a single victory in 2002, and 3 podiums and 3 pole positions on the route to 7th the in the championship, won by Johnny Cecotto. In 2003, Lamy took 4 victories and 7 podiums on route to the title in the series, scoring 271 points to Thomas Mutsch and Michael Bartels 249 points, also taking another 3 pole positions along the way. He also took victory in the G2 class at the 24 Hours of Spa, driving the Viper with Zakspeed, together with Kurt Mollekens and Didier de Radiguès.

In 2004, Lamy drove in the Le Mans Endurance Series (today called the European Le Mans Series) with Larbre Compétition, taking 4 wins in 4 races, and the title in the GTS class. He also drove in the Belcar championship, and did a one-off in the Porsche Supercup at Monaco (his first trip to race track since 1996), where he finished 15th.

In 2005, Lamy returned to the FIA GT Championship, driving most of the season with Larbre Compétition and doing two races with the official Aston Martin team, for whom he would race Le Mans with for the next two years, retiring in 2005 and finishing 10th overall in 2006 and taking 5th in the GT1 class. He took 3 wins with Larbre and one with Aston Martin Racing, en route to 8th in the championship. He would do further outings in the FIA GT Championship; he joined Manthey Racing in 2006, finishing 2nd in the 24 Hours of Spa, 2nd again in 2007 at the same race with Vitaphone Racing Team, driving a Maserati MC12 GT1, pole position in 2008 driving a Saleen S7-R with Larbre Compétition and and 8th at Zolder with Vitaphone, named now Team Vitasystems. In 2009, he started again at Spa, but retired.

In 2005, he also ran in the American Le Mans Series, doing 3 races with Prodrive, driving an Aston Martin DBR9 and taking a podium at Laguna Seca in the final race of the season. He finished 8th on the GT1 standings.

Lamy raced Larbre's Aston Martin DBR9 in 2006. (ACO/DPPI)

Lamy raced Larbre’s Aston Martin DBR9 in 2006. (ACO/DPPI)

In 2006, Lamy won the 6 Hours of Vallelunga with Racing Box SRL, driving a Maserati MC12, together with Italians Marco Cioco and Piergiuseppe Perazzini. He also became the GT1 class champion in the Le Mans Series, driving for the Larbre Competition Aston Martin DBR9, taking 3 podiums across the year, including 2 victories at Instanbul and at the Nurburgring. Across the Atlantic, in the ALMS, Lamy finished 5th in the GT1 class, taking 5 podiums across the year, including 3 victories at Lime Rock, Mosport and Laguna Seca. To round up 2006, he finished 2nd in the Mil Milhas Brasil, together with the Brazilian trio of Tony Kanaan, Giuliano Losacco and Raul Boesel.

Peugeot's return to LMP1 competition was a success; Lamy and Sarrazin won the LMP1 title overall. (ACO/DPPI)

Peugeot’s return to LMP1 competition was a success; Lamy and Sarrazin won the LMP1 title overall. (ACO/DPPI)

2007 was a return to the big-time for Lamy: for the first time since 2000, he was now a manufacturer driver again – his performances in GT racing made Peugeot sign him for their new LMP1 program, using the 908 HDi FAP. The 908 HDi FAP marked the return to Le Mans for Peugeot after a 14 year absence, after winning the 1993 race with the Peugeot 905 Evo 1B. Lamy’s first race with the car was at the opening round of the Le Mans Series, the 1000km of Monza. Two 908s were entered, one for Marc Gené and Nicolas Minassian and another for Lamy and his team-mate, Stéphane Sarrazin. The two 908s qualified on the front row, a second clear of the 3rd best car, and finished 1-3, with Minassian and Gené taking victory, with Lamy and Sarrazin in 3rd, after suffering problems regarding the car’s door closing properly through the race. At the second race of the year, at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, Lamy and Sarrazin took victory, 2 laps clear of the Charouz Lola B07/17. Lamy and Sarrazin won the next two races at Nurburgring and Spa, before retiring at Silverstone and finishing 2nd at the season finale at Interlagos. Lamy and Sarrazin’s results meant the #8 Peugeot 908 won the title in the LMP1 category, 3.5 points ahead of the #16 Pescarolo Sport Pescarolo 01 and 7 points ahead of the other Peugeot, the #7.

At the 2007 24 Hours of Le Mans, the #8 driven by Sarrazin, Lamy and Bourdais took pole position ahead of the dominating Audis. Qualifying pace didn’t materialise into actual race pace, as the #8 crossed the line 10 laps behind the #1 Audi R10, driven by Marco Werner, Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro. It was Lamy’s first overall podium at Le Mans.

2008 was a less successful year for Peugeot; Lamy's #8 only finished 4th overall. (ACO/DPPI)

2008 was a less successful year for Peugeot; Lamy’s #8 only finished 4th overall. (ACO/DPPI)

2008 saw Peugeot enter the 12 Hours of Sebring, with Minassian, Sarrazin and Lamy sharing the #7 Peugeot. They led early on, but mechanical problems dropped the car through the field, eventually being classified 11th overall, 33 laps down on the winner, the #7 Porsche RS Spyder. Lamy and Sarrazin entered the 2008 Le Mans Series as the defending champions, but Peugeot now faced competition from the Audis. In the first race of the year, the #8 faced problems and finished in 12th place, 15 laps on the #7 Peugeot who took victory at Catalunya. Sarrazin and Lamy then won at Monza, before retiring at Spa. The #8 took again victory at the Nurburgring, before technical problems saw the car classified 19th at the season finale at Silverstone. Despite the clear pace the car had, mechanical gremlins were common and more consistent and reliable Audi R10 took the honours of the title; the #2 pairing of Prémat and Rockenfeller was crowned champion. The #8 Peugeot was classified 4th in the standings, with 21 points, 14 less than the champions and 12 less than the #7 Peugeot.

At the 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans, Lamy’s car once again took pole position, ahead of the other two Peugeots, who would lead a 1-2-3 for the first couple of hours. As the night time settled, the #8 was given a black and orange flag to come in to repairs, as its headlights were broken and needed repairs. The #7 Peugeot took the lead and seemed set to take victory until rain hit the Le Mans circuit, and the Audi’s started to reel in the #7 Peugeot at a rate of 8 seconds per lap, eventually catching and passing the #7 Peugeot. McNish, Capello and Kristensen added another victory to its name, while Lamy, Sarrazin and Wurz finished in 5th overall, 13 laps down on the Audi. The #7 Peugeot finished on the same lap as the #2 Audi, but couldn’t reel him fast enough after the track dried in the final two hours.

For 2009, the Audi R10 was replaced by the Audi R15, and since Audi needed to develop the car, Peugeot now had the upper hand in terms of car development. The car’s first race was at the 12 Hour of Sebring. Despite Peugeot having a better-developed car in the 908, Audi still came out victorious with the R15, with the usual trio of McNish, Capello and Kristensen taking honours. The #8 Peugeot, now having an all French squad (Montagny, Sarrazin and Bourdais) finished in 2nd place, 22 seconds back on the Audi. Lamy’s Peugeot crossed the line in 5th place, 27 laps down, as he partnered Klien and Minassian. Lamy raced again in the ALMS at the Petit Le Mans, finishing in 2nd place, together with Minassian, behind the other Peugeot of Montagny and Sarrazin.

At Le Mans, Lamy’s car qualified in 3rd place, as the #8 Peugeot took pole position ahead of the #1 Audi. Lamy’s race was ruined when, after a pitstop, he got released a fraction too early and got hit in the rear left wheel by the Pescarolo Peugeot 908. The tyre was punctured, and eventually the whole left portion of the car was damaged and needed to be replaced. Lamy’s team eventually finished in 6th place, 13 laps down on the winner… the #9 Peugeot driven by Brabham, Gené and Wurz! It was Peugeot’s second win at the greatest race in the world, as they beat the other Peugeot of the all French squad of Montagny, Bourdais and Sarrazin to take victory by a lap. The #1 Audi completed the podium. Lamy was left with a sour taste in his mouth although. Peugeot had the pace over Audi, and if it wasn’t for the contact with the privateer 908 entered by Pescarolo, it would have been a 3 way fight between the 3 Peugeots for overall victory.

Watch: The pitlane collision between Pedro Lamy and Jean-Christophe Boullion at the 2009 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Lamy again entered the 24 Hours of Spa in 2009, driving a Maserati MC12 GT1 for Vitaphone, with the car taking pole position. Sharing the car with fellow Portuguese Miguel Ramos, Alex Müller and fellow reject Eric van der Poele, the Maserati lasted 419 laps before it retired.

Lamy carried on with Peugeot in LMP1 for two more years until the end of 2011, when the French manufacturer announced it was leaving endurance racing. In the 2010 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, sharing the car with Simon Pagenaud and Sebastien Bourdais, the #3 car of the trio got pole position, as the Peugeots completed a 1-2-3 in qualifying. But despite being favourites on paper, all 3 Peugeots retired from the race, leaving Audi to snatch a clear 1-2-3 in the end. Lamy’s #3 Peugeot retired just 2 hours into the race, when the car suffered a suspension failure with Lamy at the wheel. The other two Peugeots retired both with an engine failure, with the #1 Peugeot retiring while catching the leading Audi.

Peugeot's all-new 908 was highly successful. This is Lamy at Sebring, 2011. (ACO/DPPI)

Peugeot’s all-new 908 was highly successful. This is Lamy at Sebring, 2011. (ACO/DPPI)

For 2011, Peugeot introduced the next-generation 908. Despite a small horsepower loss compared to the 2010 car, the new car was more nimble and featured better fuel consumption than the 908 HDI FAP. The new 908 blitzed the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, winning every race except one: Le Mans. The Peugeot, having won at Sebring and at Spa before, arrived at Le Mans as favourites, but in qualifying, Audi was faster completing a 1-2 followed by the #9 Peugeot and the #8 Peugeot. Considering what was seen at Sebring at Spa, and in practice, the Peugeots could run one extra lap compared to Audi over their fuel stints, which meant that over the 24 hour distance, Peugeot would have to stop less than Audi. The 2011 would be marked by two massive accidents involving Audi’s – the first, being the massive crash suffered by Allan McNish during the first hour of the race, and the other suffered by Mike Rockenfeller, eight hours into the race as night had just fallen. Both these incidents eventually decided the race, leading to a grand total of 4 hours and 46 minutes of safety car-led running throughout the 24 hour period, negating any advantage Peugeot had over Audi in fuel economy. The #2 Audi of Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer took victory in the end, just 13 seconds ahead of the Lamy/Bourdais/Pagenaud Peugeot. It was one of the closest winning margins at Le Mans, and despite the success Peugeot had over the 2011 year, the French manufacturer deemed the economical gain of racing was minimal. They announced at the start of 2012 that they would not compete in the newly formed World Endurance Championship (WEC), even though their 2012 challenger – a hybrid version of the 908 used in 2011 – was already complete, which caused major disappointment in the Peugeot team.

With the end of the Peugeot LMP1 program, Lamy returned to GT racing, driving a Corvette C6.R for Larbre Competition. In the 4 races he did in the WEC that year, he took 3 class victories and retired in the other – his car taking victory overall in the GT-Am class. This included Lamy’s first class victory at Le Mans, sharing his car with Patrick Bornhauser and Julien Canal. Lamy tried to achieve his 6th win at the ‘Ring as well, but could only manage 9th place.

Since 2013, Pedro Lamy has been a Aston Martin driver in the World Endurance Championship, having mostly driven with Canadian gentleman driver Paul Dalla Lana and having shared his car with Mathias Lauda since 2015. He has also partnered Christoffer Nygaard in 2014 and Bill Auberlen in 2013; in 2013, Dalla Lana, Lamy and Auberlen drove in the GTE Pro class in WEC, with the trio getting 2 podiums – at Silverstone and at Shanghai – and a pole position at Interlagos. The trio retired at Le Mans, with the 2013 edition of the race being marked by the death of Allan Simonsen, Lamy’s team-mate in Aston Martin. He finished in 11th place in the WEC GTE Pro standings, with Lamy contributing effectively to the team’s performances.

The team went to GTE Am the next year, with Lamy netting podiums in every race but Le Mans – where the trio finished 5th in their class – including victories at COTA, Shanghai and Interlagos, with Lamy/Dalla Lana/Nygaard finishing 2nd in the standings, 34 points behind the duo of Christian Poulsen and David Hansson, also driving a Aston Martin. He also did races in Blancpain that year, and raced again in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, finishing 5th overall.

Lamy driving his Aston Martin in the "Roar Before The 24" at Daytona.

Lamy driving his Aston Martin in the “Roar Before The 24” at Daytona.

In 2015, Mathias Lauda replaced Nygaard in the team, and the trio finished 3rd overall in the GTE-Am standings, scoring 144 points, 21 behind the SMP Racing team of Viktor Shaitar/Aleksey Basov/Andrea Bertolini. During the year, they scored three victories and six podiums, but it was perhaps what happened at Le Mans that mostly hurt the team’s chances of taking the world championship crown. While leading the GTE-Am class, Lamy handed the car to Dalla Lana with around 50 minutes left in the time table of the race. Coming into the final pair of chicanes of the La Sarthe track, the Canadian lost control of his Aston Martin and went into the barriers, retiring the car on the spot, and handing victory to the SMP Racing Ferrari. He once again competed in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, finishing 14th overall.

Watch: Paul Dalla Lana’s crash at Le Mans, ending Aston Martin’s hopes.

In 2016, despite having won more races than any other team in the GTE Am class, with 5 class wins, and with another podium at Silverstone, retirements at Le Mans, Mexico City and Bahrain cost Lamy, Dalla Lana and Lauda the chance to fight for the overall title, finishing 39 points behind eventual GTE Am world champions Emmanuel Collard, François Perrodo and compatriot Rui Águas.

During the past three years, Lamy also raced multiple times in the TUDOR Sportscars championship, achieving good results. He was also presented with the “Ordem do Infante D. Henrique” by the Portuguese president, due to his services to the promotion of Portugal and its customs.

Certainly, Lamy was never one of the best Formula 1 drivers – although one can wonder how much motivation and the crash at Silverstone impacted his driving throughout his short grand prix career. However, there have not been many better drivers than Lamy in endurance racing and GT racing as a whole – his pedigree at Le Mans, Nurburgring, FIA GT Championship and in the WEC goes some way to proving that. Even at 44 years old, he’s still one of the highest-touted GT drivers in the world, and into 2017, he’s carrying on with Aston Martin once again, trying to claim that world title in GTE Am.