Tiago Vagaroso da Costa Monteiro was born on July 24th, 1976, and is of Portuguese descent, having been born and raised in Porto. Tiago’s middle name Vagaroso means slow in Portuguese.
Unlike many of his fellow drivers, Tiago began racing at a relatively older age of 20 after being inspired and encouraged by his father to enjoy a few laps of Paul Ricard in France driving a Porsche his father was testing. Monteiro Snr was so impressed at his sons ability, he enrolled Tiago in competitions, and it wasn’t long before Monteiro Jr was enjoying success of his own.
By 1997, Tiago was competing in the Porsche Carrera Cup, and during his year spent with the German marque, he racked up five pole positions and five wins and became the rookie of the year. The following year Monteiro moved onto single seater’s, racing in the French Formula Three series. Again, and after impressive performances, he was awarded the rookie of the year title and finished the year in twelfth place. Tiago remained in French Formula Three for 1999, this time succeeding to finish in sixth overall with one win and three other podiums. 1999 also marked Tiago’s debut in the Le Mans 24 Hour, where he completed in sixth in the GT2 class, and 16th overall. For 2000, Monteiro continued in France with F3, and again improved his placing, this time to runner up. Tiago managed four wins and also found time to compete in a variety of one-off events to further prove his skill behind the wheel of a racing car.
One more year was spent in French F3 in 2001, but Tiago could no further his placing and finished runner up again, taking six pole positions, four wins and four podiums along the way.
2002 saw Tiago finally move away from the Formula Three class and the young Portuguese driver competed in Formula 3000 with the prestigious Super Nova team. His rookie year in Formula 3000 didn’t go as well as his previous years in other series, but Tiago still managed five top-ten finishes and was awarded a place on Renault’s Formula One Driver Development Programme.
However, not yet seeing a chance to drive with a Formula One team, Monteiro went to America to compete in the Champ Car series with Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing, claiming a pole position and leading two races during his debut year. Tiago finished the season with 29 points and 15th in the overall standings. His performances in the Champ Car series brought Tiago closer to Formula One, and in 2004 he was signed to Minardi as a test driver. The time Tiago spent pounding around circuits away from the spotlight enabled Monteiro to hone his skills of driving a Formula One car, but competitive racing was always at the forefront of his mind. While testing for Minardi, Monteiro also drove in the Nissan World Series with Carlin Motorsport, and came second in the championship, earning him yet another rookie of the year award.
Tiago’s testing duties didn’t go unnoticed for too long though, and when the Midland group bought the Jordan team, they signed the Portuguese driver for the 2005 season. Partnered with India’s Narain Karthikeyan, Monteiro had finally made it to Formula One, albeit with a team that was struggling to find finances to compete. This didn’t deter Monteiro though, and his performance during the 2005 season was admirable to say the least.
The United States Grand Prix saw Tiago on the podium for the first time, although the circumstances that led to this success were far from normal, as only six cars competed due to the Michelin-shod team withdrawing their cars over concerns to safety. However, the podium and points stand, and Monteiro is the only Portuguese driver to finish a Grand Prix in the top three. 2005 also saw Monteiro break a record of most finishes in a season, previously held by the seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher. Tiago drove his Midland car to a total of 18 full race distances. With only one failure, Monteiro also holds the record for the most consecutive race finishes of a driver in their rookie year – 16. This record surpasses Jackie Stewart’s debut year of 8 finishes in a row. Tiago completed the year with seven points and was placed 16th in the championship.
For 2006, Midland re-signed Tiago, this time partnered with Dutch driver Christijan Albers. However, the year didn’t go well for the team, and neither driver managed to score a single point. Tiago couldn’t even continue his finishing record and retired from seven Grands Prix. Monteiro finished the season languishing in 21st position with zero points.
Late in 2006 it was announced that the Midland group had sold the team to Dutch car company Spyker, and the new owners set about rebranding the team and working on new sponsors to help finance their dream of moving up the grid. The team succeeded in signing a contract with Ferrari to use their engines, and the Dutch consortium worked hard on ensuring there was no repeat of the 2006 performance. Part of the retructuring though meant Monteiro’s services were no longer needed. The Portuguese driver spent time looking for alternative teams, but ultimately bowed out of Formula One on December 21st 2006 to race in other categories. Adrian Sutil became Tiago’s replacement.