Tiago Monteiro: When Passion Changes Everything

“Never return where you have been happy” goes the proverb. In Portugal, they refer to the song “As Regras da Sensatez” (Rules of wisdom), sung by Rui Veloso. The song goes like this:

Never go back to the place,
Where you have been happy,
As much as the heart says,
Don’t do what it asks.

Never return to the house,
Where you burned with passion,
You’ll only find grass,
Between the slabs.

But in the heart of a champion, passion takes over. We came back here, where for Tiago Monteiro, that term comes alive. Naturally, the portugese driver, currently “out of play” of the 2018 FIA WTCR Oscaro, opens up. In Vila Real, a place full of emotion, he reveals us his feelings.

A hero of sea and asphalt

We brought our driver to a familiar place… Under a different angle. Sat on the stands of the Vila Real amphitheatre, Tiago is on the other side. Where he isn’t used to be. The eyes fixed on the scene where he celebrated his 2016 victory, he brings back the good memories of the warmth of the people which whom he celebrated those moments of glory, flooded in an ocean of Portugese flags.

It’s a very special feeling and i still ask myself if it was real. I had the impression of being in a dream. When i see this empty place… Here i have seen hundreds or thousands of people chanting my name while crying. It is a truly inexplicable feeling.” confesses Tiago.

“It’s very strong, very intense and very special. I even have goosebumps. It’s the kind of memory that will stay with me forever,” says he while thanking those whom for him, are the most important: the fans. He adds: “Without them, us drivers, are nothing. Without them, i can’t exercise my profession and for that i have to thank them. A great thanks for passion, love and the messages of support they have sent me.”

Passion gives you everything and… takes everything

In September 2017, the world of motorsports is in choc: Tiago Monteiro is the victim of a huge accident while leading the WTCC with one finger on the world championship title. That day, during a private test in Barcelona, destiny decides otherwise. At over 250 km/h, Tiago crashes into a wall, because of a brake problem. Miraculously, he survives and escapes with great physical and mental injury. “It is really a second chance in my life. I have given everything for this passion and it almost took it all away, but i am still here and i have the opportunity to learn“, recognizes the driver of the Boutsen Ginion Racing team.

The recovery process is long and hard, but the Porto native surprises everyone. Day after day, his state of health ameliorates greatly. To help him, he can count on Emiliano Ventura, his physical coach, on the unconditional support of his family and friends, but especially on an essential character trait: resilience, which without, nothing of this would be possible. Tiago Monteiro explains: “You have to demonstrate incredible willpower to accept the difficulties and transform them into a force. The good moments are easy, fantastic and energizing, yes. The issue is to manage the most difficult moments that are part of our day.”

If he could go back in time, Tiago probably would change his destiny. But life is made of unforeseen events and you must always draw the lessons. This is one more.

"É preciso uma força de vontade muito grande e nunca baixar os braços"

Passion vs. Experience

Success, Tiago Monteiro collects. Podiums, victories… The third place during the F1 US Grand Prix in 2005 is probably one of his best memories. Since that day, the career has taken off. His name is written into Portugese motorsports history. At the time, Tiago was (already) 28 years old, but still had a lot to learn.

“I would love to be in F1 with the experience i have today,”, admits Monteiro with some regrets. “The last four or five years of my career have been the best in physical and mental terms, in terms of performance and technical knowledge. Today, i know a lot better my skills, strengths and weaknesses, and i know how to manage them to my best.”

Already 13 years have gone since this podium shared with Ferrari drivers Michael Schumacher (winner) and Rubens Barrichello (2nd), and if Tiago was to go back to this period, what would he do?

“I’d savour each moment. Unfortunately, i didn’t do that. The pressure was so strong and the conditions so hard…”

Passion Changes Everything

In a race, the human is replaced by the driver. The high-level athlete, prepared and concentrated, takes place, with only one objective: win. Win for the team, the family, the dream, whatever. When the green light goes on, passion guides them. But this fire is not born on command, it’s natural. It has always been present and serves as fuel. The fuel of which champions are born: “Without passion, it’s impossible to do this. I live off my passion and everyone would like to be in my place. Passion and the opportunities that present themselves to us create our force. In all evidence, the hard times are complicated to overcome. The crash in September had a huge impact on my life, but once again, it gave me the force to come back even stronger. Without passion, there is nothing. Passion Changes Everything. Really.”

On the last straight of his recovery, Tiago waits for the right moment to get back into competition. And we wait for this with impatience.