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Pedro Chaves

Full Name:
Pedro Antonio Pinto Ferreira Matos Chaves
27th February 1965 (Age 55)
Bonfim, Porto
Most recent race (in database):

This diminutive Portuguese climbed the racing ladder armed with ample sponsorship but never made it through pre-qualifying during his one season as a Formula 1 driver. Victory in the 1990 British Formula 3000 Championship was against limited opposition and he normally struggled when racing in the FIA series.

Upbringing and early racing career

The son of a former rally driver and official in Portugal’s national association, Pedro Chaves won the 1985 Portuguese Toyota Starlet series in his first year racing cars. That success attracted sponsorship from the Mateus wine company and a move to the country’s newly launched Formula Ford 1600 series – again winning the title at the first attempt.

Two seasons in British Formula Ford 1600 began with a major testing shunt at Snetterton and a broken collarbone at Mallory Park. He was a works Van Diemen driver in 1988 and won races. But Chaves made an overly ambitious move direct to the FIA F3000 Championship for the following season and struggled to qualify Cobra International’s Reynard 89D-Cosworth.

Chaves stepped back into the less competitive British series for 1990 and was the only driver to race in all 10 rounds. His Mansell Madwick Reynard 90D-Cosworth strolled to the title and his upturn in confidence was palpable when he made a mid-season return to the FIA series at Brands Hatch. On a circuit that Chaves knew well, he qualified 12th before finishing in a career-best fourth position.

Formula 1 non-qualifier and subsequent career

Continued backing from Mateus financed a move to the Coloni F1 team in 1991. This was an era when the category was oversubscribed and Chaves never made it through pre-qualifying before giving up the drive after his home race. He returned to F3000 in 1992 but it was another uncompetitive campaign.

A move to America and Indy Lights saw Chaves classified in the top five in his three seasons in the championship (1993 to 1995). He won at Vancouver in 1995 but was unable to progress further in single-seaters.

Instead, he returned to Europe and was runner-up in Spanish touring cars before switching to rallying in 1998 when twice Portuguese Champion with a Toyota Corolla WRC (1999 and 2000). He returned to racing with a Graham Nash Saleen S7R-Ford to win the 2002 Spanish GT Championship with Miguel Ramos as co-driver. A season in the FIA series a year later included a best finish of fifth at Magny-Cours.

Championship seasons