Together with his teammate Phil Hanson, Filipe Albuquerque wrapped up a race win in Monza alongside winning the championship only a few weeks after winning the 24 hours of Le Mans and grabbing the LMP2 world championship title on the same day. Needless to say, it has been a hugely successful years for the Portuguese United Autosports’ driver. We caught up with him in Monza’s pitlane.
Filipe, congratulations on yet another win. It was a bit of a rollercoaster of a race. Talk me through the weekend.
I’m super happy with this win and it’s great to be able to wrap up the championship with just one race to go, even though our sister car really wanted to challenge us for it. It was a complicated race because all weekend the conditions had been dry, but the track was wet for the start, so we decided to play it safe and go out on intermediate tyres. Phil had a little moment on the start, but we managed to find our pace and regain our position and take it to the chequered flag.
With so much at stake, what’s it like when you’re not driving, and you see a teammate have a moment like Phil did on turn one?
When this happened it’s important to stay calm. I looked at the times and we still had three hours and 55 minutes to go, so we talked to Phil to ask if the car was ok. He said it was damaged, so he came in and we swapped the back end and put on slick tyres and picked up our pace.
Much like Le Mans, the victory came at the very end. You kept it exciting until the last twenty minutes or so. Were you aware that you had a different strategy then the other three LMP2 machines?
Yes, we were aware of this but for me that wasn’t important. While I was driving my engineer kept telling me the times of the car in front and I actually told him ‘I don’t need to know the pace of the other cars”. “Tell me the times of our sister car, the number 32”. With the championship in mind it didn’t really matter where we ended up, it would only matter that we finished in front of our sister car as we were both on the same strategy. I always like to win but this time the championship was at stake so that was all that mattered.
I’m sensing a strong rivalry between your car and the sister car. What’s it like racing your teammate, especially in endurance?
It’s always nice to race your teammate. I love it. Maybe Richard (Dean, the team owner) doesn’t like it as much as I do. It is very different compared to racing other cars. Even in the heat of battle you have to respect your teammate and you can never be as aggressive as you would be with another team. In Le Mans we had a very close battle. Here in Monza I felt we had some more pace as we fell back but still managed to pass them and stay ahead and manage the gap.
You’re racing in so many series. What’s next for you?
Next up I will be flying to the US to participate in the Motul Petit Le Mans race with IMSA. I’ve got some unfinished business with this race as I’ve never won it. Last year I came close but we ran out of fuel on the last lap, so this year I want to sort my unfinished business and come back with a trophy.