Padmore returns to glory in first Masters Historic Formula One race at Portimão
Former Masters Historic Formula One champion Nick Padmore returned to glory by conquering the rain and his rivals in the first Masters Historic Formula One race at the Algarve Classic Festival. In his post 82-class Lotus 92, Padmore surged to the front to lead after six laps and never looked back. It was Padmore’s first overall win in the series for more than two years.
“I heard my dad saying ‘Karting lines, karting lines!’”, said a happy Padmore. “He’s not a bad coach, is he? It was so slippery. I had a massive vibration from lap 3 and I was going to come in but then I thought, if the wheel goes off it goes off…”
As the first of the ground-effect cars, Jamie Constable (Tyrrell 011) came through to pip Marco Werner’s Lotus 81 to second right at the end while in fourth overall Max Smith-Hilliard surged past a gaggle of newer cars to take a dominant pre-78 class win in his Shadow DN5.
“That’s always good, it’s like a trump card!” said Constable about beating a pro. “We found the right setup with the car, and I loved driving it in the wet.”
“I’m not so happy”, said a despondent Werner. “This is my weather, normally. But we had a different set of tyres after we destroyed our rain set in yesterday’s qualifying. So I had to use an old set, three years old, and I had zero grip…”
“I tried to hang on to the quick boys as long as I could”, said Smith-Hilliard, who left many of the post-78 cars behind. “Well, yes, I think they were going faster but spinning! It was better to be the tortoise today…”
In tenth overall, Marc Devis (Surtees TS16) survived a couple of spins to take second in the pre-78 class, the Belgian repassing class rival Niklas Halusa to do so. The Austrian was having his series debut in the McLaren M23 previously campaigned by brother Lukas.
“Slow!” was Devis’ recap of the race. “It was very wet, very slippery, and it was especially hard to find traction out of the slow corners. I spun a few times but fought back past Halusa. It was fun, though, I feel like the last man standing…”
On a very wet Autodromo do Algarve, the field was held behind the safety car for two laps to allow the competitors to get acquainted with the conditions. At the green flag at the start of lap 3, Werner got away cleanly into the lead from Constable, d’Ansembourg, Brooks and Kubota, but soon Padmore was up into third chasing Constable, while Brooks had got ahead of d’Ansembourg, with Max Smith-Hilliard in the pre-78 class-leading Shadow DN5 in hot pursuit of the Belgian. Meanwhile, Mark Hazell’s Williams FW08 was the race’s first retirement.
On lap 4, Padmore was up into second to create a JPS Lotus 1-2. Constable held third from Brooks’ Lotus 91, d’Ansembourg in the first of the Williams FW07Cs, Kubota in the second 91, while from the back Mike Cantillon was arriving fast in his FW07C – however, he was awarded a 10-second time penalty for overtaking under the safety car, making his challenge even tougher than it was.
On a roll, Padmore passed Werner for the lead on lap 5 while Constable valiantly kept in touch with the two Lotus cars upfront. Similarly, Smith-Hilliard was flying too, his Shadow now up into fourth ahead of Kubota, d’Ansembourg, Brooks, Warren Briggs in the McLaren M29 and Cantillon. On the verge of the top-ten, Marc Devis in the Surtees TS16 fought the debuting Niklas Halusa – in the McLaren M23 raced to the class title by brother Lukas – for second in the pre-78 class.
Lap 8 completed, and with less than five minutes to go, there was no stopping Padmore, his Lauda-class Lotus 92 leading Werner by eight seconds. In fact, the German was forced to pay attention to his mirrors as Constable had closed to within a second. 23 seconds down, Smith-Hilliard held a comfortable class lead, while Kubota, d’Ansembourg and Brooks fought over fifth. Briggs, Cantillon and Devis held station at the bottom of the top-ten, in front of Halusa, Paul Tattersall’s Ensign N179 and Richard Hope in the glorious Alfa Romeo 182.
Padmore controlled the race towards the end, taking his first overall Masters Historic Formula One win since 2019, while Constable pipped Werner to second. Smith-Hilliard bagged a convincing pre-78 class win, leading home Kubota, Brooks – who nipped past d’Ansembourg right at the end – and Briggs. Devis held off Halusa for second place in the pre-78 class.
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