Oft-remembered for his mid-90s run in Formula 1 with Lotus and Minardi, this Portuguese legend is proof positive that there is life after F1. A factory Aston Martin driver since 2013, Pedro Lamy won the FIA GT Championship in 1998, the LMGTE Am FIA World Endurance Championship in 2017, is a three-time European Le Mans Series champion (overall in 2007, twice more in-class), a former class winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and has only missed La Sarthe’s endurance behemoth since 1997. He also has an idea for Vin Diesel’s first Oscar-nominated movie role…
Age? You can lie about that if you want…
Where and when was your first ever car race, and how old were you?
“I started in motor bikes when I was 6 years old, and then I swapped to karting when I was 13. My first car race was in Formula Ford in 1989, so I would have been 17.”
What is the best moment of your racing career so far?
“I have a few good moments, but probably my biggest moment was when I first started racing outside of Portugal. This was a long time ago, of course, but when I was doing Formula Lotus Euroseries, and I was champion [in 1991], that changed my future a lot. Many other opportunities came after that like Formula 3, Formula 3000, and of course Formula 1, and before, when I was just racing in Portugal, I didn’t know how competitive I would be. So that championship in ’91 meant a lot to me.”
Which is your favourite circuit and why?
“Actually my favourite circuit I only raced once, but I really like Macau. I didn’t win [in 1991 again], I was leading the race and I was fast, but I finished 2nd. There was a problem with yellow flags, I think. So yeah, Formula 3, I raced only one time and finished 2nd. I also have to talk about the Nürburgring, Nordschleife, plus Spa and Austin I really like, but that’s probably too many! So yeah, Macau is number one.”
Describe the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you at a motor race …
“[Pause]…Something strange that happened in my career was when I jumped to Formula 1 in ’93. I didn’t have an opportunity to test, and all of a sudden I’m racing in a Grand Prix against big names like Michael [Schumacher], [Ayrton] Senna and [Alain] Prost. I was scared to be there without testing the car, and the cars in those days were really difficult to drive. It was a dream coming true and at the same time I didn’t want to do it! But I think I did pretty well.*”
*Pedro made his F1 debut at the 1993 Italian Grand Prix, replacing a concussed Alessandro Zanardi. Pedro’s massive start line shunt during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix is oft-forgotten amidst the context of that weekend, and, ironically, the Portuguese was himself benched after the 1994 Monaco Grand Prix following a massive testing accident at Silverstone. He’d make his return, now with Minardi, 15 months later at Hungary.
Describe your helmet design to us, and what it signifies…
“Actually, I was trying to find a design, and I very much liked Alain Prost’s helmet. So I ‘borrowed’ a few of his ideas! Actually the guy who does the design does a lot of motorbike helmets, so he brings a slightly different look to it. It’s blue, pink and white, and I’ve used pretty much this design since my first race.”
What is your greatest strength?
“I’m a bit insecure, I think.”
…that’s your GREATEST strength?!
“Ah, I thought you asked for a weakness!” [Laughs] “Well, you could definitely say I’m very honest anyway!”
If Hollywood made a movie about you, who would play you and why?
[Big pause] “I’ve no idea. Who do you think should play me?”
Maybe your favourite actor? Who might that be?
“Oh I have many that I like, but I don’t know their names, unfortunately…”
How about Vin Diesel? He drives fast too…
“Yeah, he’s successful, I’m okay with that. Maybe this could be his first Oscar role!”
What would you like to achieve before retiring?
“I’m looking forward to a long holiday when I finally stop! I mean, I’ve raced in a lot of different series, and of course in F1, you want to be successful. I wasn’t, but I’ve won Le Mans, and I’ve twice finished 2nd there [in ’07 and ’11 with Peugeot]. I don’t think I’ll race in the prototypes again or fight for the overall win, but maybe another shot at victory in a lower category would be a nice thing to happen.”
Tell us a random fact about yourself that your fans might not know…
“I’m an open book. So there isn’t really anything.”
Finally, this is your first race in the 24H SERIES, so what aspects of this series have you enjoyed most so far?
“The organisation is pretty cool, and everybody has been really friendly. I like that. It makes a change!”