Alvaro Parente is a Portuguese racing driver who began his career in the open-wheel racing but later switched to GT racing. He has several championship trophies in his collection: 2005 British F3 Championship, 2007 Formula Renault 3.5 Series, 2015 International GT Open and 2016 Pirelli World Challenge.
Early success in karting competitions
Born in October 1984 in Porto, Alvaro Parente started his racing career at the age of 10 in karting competitions. After winning the national championship cadet title, he became European Championship ICA Junior class winner in 1998. He stayed in karting until 2001 when he switched to formula racing.
Parente spent two years in the Spanish Formula 3 Championship. In his first season, he was 12th, while in 2002, driving for Racing Engineering, Portuguese driver finished 4th after scoring one race win. In 2003, driving for Team Ghinzani, Parente competed in Formula 3 Euro Series but without success as he picked only a point out of 19 races. He also appeared as a guest in various championships (Italian F3 Championship and British F3 Championship with Carlin Motorsport), but the results were again relatively unnoticed.
British Formula 3 champion in 2005
He stayed with Carlin Motorsport in 2004 and made a step forward. Driving in the British F3, Alvaro was able to win one race and to finish 7th overall. For the second year in a row, he raced in the Macau Grand Prix but he failed to finish the race.
He stayed in the series for another year which proved to be an excellent decision. Parente won the 2005 championship title after having 11 wins and finishing in front of some well-known names like Mike Conway, Bruno Senna, and Charlie Kimball. That success earned him a place in Team Portugal in the A1 GP Series for the 2005-2006 season and again Parente did considerably well, taking the 6th position.
Winning the title in the 2007 Formula Renault 3.5 Series
The next stop in his career was Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Driving for Victory Engineering in 2006, Alvaro finished 5th overall after he has scored three wins (Istanbul, Nurburgring, Barcelona).
For the following season, Parente moved to Tech 1 Racing team and once again proved that he has a lot of potential. Alvaro won the title after taking two race wins (Monaco, Spa) and having other three podiums. At the end of the year, he was 27 points ahead of a runner-up Ben Hanley. As a prize for winning the title, Parente had a test with Renault Formula 1 team in Jerez, in January of 2008.
Moving to GP2 Series in 2008
In 2008, as a driver of Super Nova Racing, Alvaro won the season-opening race in Barcelona, becoming the first Portuguese who won the GP2 Series’ race. Later in the season he finished on the podium in Monaco, Hockenheim, and Spa, and eventually finished 8th overall.
The following year Chachi again finished 8th in the final standings but this time as a member of Ocean Racing Technology team. He scored one victory (at Spa) and finished 2nd at Nurburgring. The same year Parente also appeared in one round of Superleague Formula and Spanish GT Championship.
Two years without a full-time driving
Unable to secure a full-time drive in 2010, Parente had to wait for his chance. He raced part-time in GP2 Series with Scuderia Coloni, scoring podium finishes in both races at Spa. He also had a short spell with the same team in the Asian GP2 Series.
The situation didn’t change in 2011. Portuguese driver was again left without a seat. He was called by Racing Engineering to replace Christian Vietoris for two rounds of GP2 Series, while later he jumped into the seat of Carlin Motorsport, replacing Oliver Turvey. He drove in four rounds but the results were far below the expectations.
Parente switched to GT racing in 2012
In 2012, Parente finally left single-seaters and switched to GT racing, becoming a McLaren factory driver. In his first year in GT racing, Parente was a pilot of Hexis Racing, the team that has competed in the FIA GT1 World Championship. It was a relatively good campaign for the Portuguese who was driving alongside Gregoire Demoustier. They had four podium finishes before ending the season in 11th place.
Next year, driving the Sebastien Loeb Racing’s McLaren MP4-12C GT3, alongside the team owner, Parente scored four wins and the 2nd place but that wasn’t enough for the title and he finished 4th overall.
Moving from one series to another
The season of 2014 was full of duties for the McLaren factory driver. He competed in various championships, including Blancpain GT Series, FIA World Endurance Championship, ADAC GT Masters, and Stock Car Brasil. The highlight of the year was definitely the 3rd place in Gulf 12 Hours race at Yas Marina Circuit, driving a McLaren 650S GT3 alongside Kevin Estre and Rob Bell. The same year he also entered Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time, driving the RAM racing’s Ferrari 458 Italia GTC, but failed to finish the race.
In 2015, Alvaro was again very busy. However, his primary occupation was driving for Teo Martin Motorsport in the GT3 Pro-Am class of International GT Open. Sharing the seat of McLaren 650S GT3 with his compatriot Miguel Ramos, Parente won the title, easily beating two AF Corse’s crews.
Bathurst 12 Hour winner in 2016
Probably the biggest victory in his career so far was a triumph in 2016 Bathurst 12 Hours. In the race at Mount Panorama Circuit, Parente was teamed with Shane van Gisbergen and Jonathon Webb in Tekno Autosports’ McLaren.
Another success was achieved in the Pirelli World Challenge. Parente won the title driving the 650S GT3 prepared by K-PAX Racing after scoring 6 wins out of 20 races and having other three podium finishes. The same year Parente also performed pretty well in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup. Alvaro and his co-driver Rob Bell finished 6th overall driving the Garage 59’s McLaren.
Racing with Acura, Mercedes, Bentley in 2018
In 2017, Parente continued to combine drives with McLaren in the Blancpain GT Series and Pirelli World Challenge. Then, in 2018, he left McLaren and contested with three different manufacturers all over the world. In the IMSA SportsCar Championship, he joined Meyer Shank Racing to share the #86 Acura NSX GT3 with Katherine Legge in GTD class, winning one race (Laguna Seca).
In the Pirelli World Challenge, he stayed with K-pax Racing to drive Bentley Continental GT3. The third brand in 2018 was Mercedes. Alvaro raced with Strakka Racing's Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the Blancpain GT Series, including Spa 24 Hours. He also raced in a Mercedes at Suzuka 10 Hours, finishing in the second place.