1958 was the first Portuguese Formula One race to be held on the tricky Boavista street circuit, complete with tramlines and slippery cobbled sections. As it turned out the race would have a huge impact on the Drivers' Championship for totally unexpected reasons.
Circuito da Boavista
Heading into the Portuguese Grand Prix Mike Hawthorn in the Ferrari 246, and Stirling Moss in a Vanwall led the championship. In qualifying the positions were reversed. Moss took pole position, Hawthorn was second with an identical time, and Stewart Lewis-Evans was third in the second Vanwall. Jean Behra had pushed his BRM P25 into a repectable fourth place, and his team mate Harry Schell qualified seventh.
Circuito da Boavista, Porto
Circuito da Boavista was a 4.6 mile (7.4 km) street track in the Portuguese city of Porto. The pit lane and start/finish were situated right on the sea front, and this part of the track formed the perimeter of the Parque da Cicade. After negotiating a couple of roundabouts, the track took to the long straight Avenida do Boavista, which gave the circuit its name. The track rose up to an elevation of 74m as it wound its way through residential areas of the city, before descending back down towards the coast.
Circuito da Boavista
The circuit was used throughout the 1950s, and hosted Formula One championship races on two occasions, 1958 and 1960. A truncated version of the track was revived in 2005, running the Boavista Historic Grand Prix, and the FIA WTCC Race of Portugal, but racing was suspended in 2015.
Boavista Policar Track Plan
Footprint :- 4.78 x 2.94m
Lanes :- 2
Lane Length :- 12.71m
Track :- Policar
VII Gran Premio De Portugal
Portuguese Grand Prix 1958
A crowd of 50,000 packed the grandstands and lined the streets of Oporto for the 1958 Portuguese Grand Prix.
In cloudy weather on a track left damp by earlier rain, Moss took the lead on the opening lap but was overtaken by Hawthorn on the seventh lap only to regain the lead a lap later. The pair continued to battle and in doing so opened a gap over the chasing pack from which Jean Behra emerged.
Behra moved into second when Hawthorn was forced to stop to check his brakes, but 11 laps later Hawthorn passed the BRM, and then Stuart Lewis-Evans completed a great day for Vanwall by nipping in to take third.
Moss and Hawthorn were once again the main protagonists battling it out for the first eight rain interrupted laps. Moss then pulled away as Hawthorn slipped behind Behra in the BRM until Behra hit spark plug problems.
Moss went on to take the victory, with Hawthorne second, Lewis Evans third and Behra fourth. Schell in the second BRM just missed out on the points, finishing sixth.
But as the race finished, the drama was only just beginning as a protest was made against Hawthorn. It was claimed that he had restarted his car against the direction of the circuit, a disqualification offence. However, Championship rival Stirling Moss had seen the incident himself, and headed off to the stewards office to tell them that Hawthorn had been on the pavement at the time. Moss's evidence swung the decision and no action was taken.
Had the protest been upheld then Hawthorn would have lost seven points. But for Moss's intervention, the championship could have swung decisively in Stirling's favour.