Tiago da Costa Monteiro is one of the most popular Portuguese racing drivers who has competed in various premier championships, including Formula One and FIA World Touring Car Championship.
He spent two seasons in Formula One, driving for Jordan in 2005 and for MF1 Racing in 2006. He scored one F1 podium, finishing third in the 2005 US Grand Prix. After leaving F1, Monteiro made a WTCC debut in 2007 and stayed in the championship until today. He scored ten WTCC wins.
Monteiro started a career in the French Formula 3
He was born on July 24, 1976, in Porto, the second largest city in Portugal. Tiago’s career has started relatively late and the first notable results were scored in 1998. Driving in 12 races of the French Formula 3, Monteiro collected 31 points to finish 12th in the championship. The following year was better as he managed to win one race and moved up to the 6th position in final rankings. The same year Monteiro debuted in Le Mans 24 Hours, driving for Paul Belmondo Racing and finished 6th in the GTS class.
Good results at Le Mans 24 hours
In 2000 and 2001 Monteiro entered many single-seater championships with the ART Grand Prix team, but the duties in the French Formula 3 remained most important for him. Interestingly, the Portuguese finished as vice-champion in both seasons. He won seven out of 23 races which wasn’t enough for the title. In 2001, he took a part in Le Mans 24 hours for the second time (this time with Larbre Competition) and finished 3rd in the GTS class.
World Series by Nissan runner-up
In 2002, Monteiro competed in the International Formula 3000 championship as a driver for Super Nova Racing but scored only two points. In 2003, he switched to the CART World Series and again failed to impress, finishing the season without a victory or podium finish. Things were better in the following year in which Monteiro competed in the World Series by Nissan.
Driving for Carlin Motorsport he scored five wins and a total of nine podiums to finish the season as a vice-champion, losing to Heikki Kovalainen by a margin of 32 points.
The move to Formula 1
The same year Tiago also acted as Minardi F1 team test driver which was an opportunity to learn the series and pick up some experience. That was very important after he was signed by Jordan and was named its full-time driver for 2005. Interestingly, Monteiro managed to clinch a podium finish in his rookie year but that was a pretty bizarre situation. In the 2005 US Grand Prix, only three teams equipped with Bridgestone tires entered the race while the teams supplied by Michelin stayed out of the race concerned about safety. In those circumstances, with only six cars on the grid, Monteiro finished third, behind two Ferraris.
Later in the season, the Portuguese racer managed to score once more, finishing 8th in Belgium. That was the last point he had scored in Formula 1 World Championship. Jordan was renamed to Midland/Spyker F1 Team and Monteiro signed a new contract. In 18 races, Monteiro retired from six and finished the season without a point, with a ninth place in Hungarian Grand Prix as the highlight of the year. He was forced to leave the team before the start of the 2007 campaign and after an unsuccessful try to get a ride with Toro Rosso, he left Formula 1.
Switch to FIA WTCC
However, he had no reason to worry. Monteiro quickly joined SEAT Sport to compete in the World Touring Cars Championship. A switch to the completely different type of racing wasn’t an obstacle for the Portuguese. In his first year in the series, Monteiro finished third in both races in France, while in the final standings he was 11th.
Interestingly, in his second year in the FIA WTCC, Monteiro finished 12th even after he had won two races in Mexico and Portugal. In 2009, the Portuguese driver didn’t win a race but moved up to the 9th place overall. His best result that year was the 2nd place in the opening race in Spain.
Winning the races in SEAT
In 2010, Monteiro left SEAT Sport team and moved to Sunred Sport, but still was behind the wheel of a SEAT Leon. He managed to get back on the winning track, scoring two victories in Portugal and Spain before finishing 5th in the points list. The following year was relatively good: Monteiro missed a top spot on the podium but had finished 3rd three times, in Belgium, Italy and Portugal. At the end of the year, Monteiro was 6th and stayed with the team for another year. However,SEAT soon decided to leave WTCC and Monteiro was forced to change the team. He finished the season of 2012 driving for Honda and in the penultimate race that year scored a podium finish in Macau.
Move to Honda
Since 2013, Tiago is a full-time driver of Castrol Honda World Touring Car Team. In the first half of the year, Monteiro’s performances weren’t impressive but he still managed to finish 2nd in Slovakia. In the second half of the season his form had improved. He won the race in China and was 2nd in USA and Macau while in Japan he was 3rd. Unfortunately, those results brought him only the 8th place in the WTCC Drivers’ championship.
Marking the 2015 win collection with Russia and Japan
In 2014, Monteiro’s final position was again better in the season in which he failed to win a race. Tiago finished 5th overall after he had scored five podium finishes. Another interesting fact is that Tiago didn’t score a point in only five out of 24 races that year. Monteiro slightly dropped in the final standings in 2015 as he finished at the 7th position. Wins in Russia and Japan were the highlights of the year in which Citroen cars were absolutely dominant.
Video - Monteiro wins home WTCC race
Losing the WTCC title because of injury
Monteiro stayed with Honda in 2016. The team became more ambitious and more competitive so Tiago was rightfully considered as one of the favorites for the WTCC title. However, the Portuguese driver never was really close of winning the title that year. He scored just two wins and several podiums before finishing 3rd in the standings.
In 2017, Monteiro stayed in the factory-entered #18 Honda Civic WTCC. With just two factory teams on the WTCC grid (Honda and Volvo), Monteiro was one of the main favorites for the championship title. After six rounds, he was the championship leader with two wins and seven podiums on his account. And then, during the summer break, he suffered a serious injury in a practice crash which put him out of championship. He missed four rounds and finished 8th in the final points.
Sitting out from racing for a long time
In 2018, FIA WTCC merged with TCR International Series into the WTCR - FIA World Touring Car Championship. Monteiro joined Boutsen Ginio Racing to compete in the new championship in the #18 Honda Civic Type R but he wasn't fit for racing during the first six rounds, until July.