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Luis Pérez-Sala Valls-Taberner was a Spanish Formula 1 Driver and team principle. Born in Barcelona in 1959, Sala drove two seasons for the small Minardi team between 1988 and 1989. He left Formula 1 after the1989 season and pursued a career in touring cars, retiring in 2008.

He returned to the F1 paddock in 2012 as the team principle of HRT, owned by former Minardi teammate Adrian Campos. He left this role at the end of the season when the team folded.

He made 26 starts from his 32 entries in Formula 1, with his best finish of sixth providing his solitary championship point at the 1989

British Grand Prix. This result saw him placed 28th in the standings that year.


Early Career (1982-1987)Edit

1982-83 – Alfasprint European Cup Edit

Sala began his driving career in the Alfasprint European Cup, a single make touring car series with all competitors driving the Alfa Romeo Alfasud Sprint. He debuted in the 1982 season, placing in 9th place in the championship, scoring 47 points, but not reaching the podium all season.

He returned for a second season in 1983 with more success. He took six podiums including four wins, with no driver matching his win tally in the ten races in the championship. However, he missed out on winning the championship, finishing second to consistent Italian Luigi Calamai by one point, who only missed out on the podium on two occasions.

1984 – Formula 3 Edit

In 1984, Sala decided to make the move from touring cars to single seaters, securing a drive with Ravarotto Racing in a Ralt RT3, powered by a Alfa Romeo engine. He spent the majority of the year driving in the European Formula 3 Championship for the team. It was a strong field with future Formula 1 race winner Gerhard Bergher, along with other future F1 drivers, including Johnny Dumfries, Ivan Capelli and Claudio Langes. Also competing was Tommy Byrne who had already completed a handful of Formula 1 races in 1982.

He endured a difficult first half of the 13 race season, only finishing inside the top ten once with eighth in the second round at Zolder. Four other finishes were achieved in the first seven races, with retirements at La Châtre and the Nurburgring. The following three races were an improvement, with a pair of seventh places followed by 11th at Mugello.

The highlight of his year came at the next race at the Ring Knutstorp in Sweden. Helped by absences and retirements from the more competitive drivers in the series, Sala managed to finish on the podium in second place, only a second behind winner Claudio Langes. Eighth at the penultimate round at Nogaro was followed by another points finish in the final race in Jarama where he finished 5th. This brought his points tally up to eight in total, good enough for tenth position in the championship.

One week after the conclusion of the European Formula 3 Championship, Sala joined Equipo Campsa for the final round of the Italian Formula 3 Championship at Misano. He finished just outside the points in eighth, in his final race of the year.

1985 – Formula 3 Edit

Sala continued his Formula 3 career in 1985 with Equipo Campsa, the team which he raced for in the final round of the Italian F3 Championship the previous year. He was to complete a full Italian F3 season paired with three non-championship races, including the prestigious Monaco F3 support race, in a Ralt RT30, powered once again by Alfa Romeo. The field was weaker than the series that Sala had driven in previously, with some notable fellow competitors coming in the form of Alex Caffi, Stefano Modena, Nicola Larini and Marco Acipella.

After seventh in the opening round at Vallelunga, Sala would go on a three race point scoring streak, starting with sixth at Misano. He won the following round at Spezzano, his first win since 1983 and his first win in Formula 3. He backed this up with a strong second place at the next race at Mugello.

Another strong showing at the non-championship Monaco GP saw him finish sixth, but his fortunes would take a turn for the worse when returning to Italy. Failing to qualify at round five at Margione, he then crashed out of the next four races, including twice at Monza. A pair of fifth places followed at rounds ten and eleven, but he failed to finish for the third time in a row at Monza at round twelve. Hopes wouldn’t have been high for the non-championship Monza Trophy that would have followed, but Sala not only finished but earned a morale-boosting podium in second place.

He couldn’t replicate this result in the final three races in the Italian F3 season, failing to score points in any of them. He finished fifth in what would be his final F3 race, the European Cup at Paul Ricard. He scored 20 points during the season, showing flashes of talent, but the string of crashes meant he could only manage seventh in the championship.

1986 - Formula 3000 Edit

After showing his talent in Formula 3, Sala earned a ride for the Pavesi team in the Formula 3000 International Championship for the 1987 season. He would again be driving a Ralt, this time the RT20, but for the first time in his career he would not have an Alfa Romeo engine, instead using Cosworth power. As the final step before Formula 1, he came up against a strong field with drivers such as Ivan Capelli, Pierluigi Martini, Philippe Alliot and Satoru Nakajima.

He failed to score at round one at Silverstone and retired from round two at Vallelunga. However, he began to show speed, picking up his first points next time out at Pau with fifth, then went one better at Spa. Another fifth place followed at Imola before failing to qualify at Mugello. He then took his maiden F3000 race win at Pergusa, followed by yet another points finish at the Osterreichring.

The following round was in Birmingham, with torrential rain all through the race, with several drivers crashing out. Sala however, flourished in the wet weather conditions and took a superb win, although unfortunately for him he received half points due to the race being called off early. He rounded off the season with fifth at the Le Mans Bugatti circuit before finishing outside the points at Jarama in the final round.

It was a superb maiden season for Sala, with two wins and a total of 24.5 points landing him fourth in the championship. It would have been third on countback had the Birmingham round been worth full points.

In addition to the successful F3000 campaign, Sala got his first taste of Formula 1 machinery in 1986. With regular Zakspeed driver, Huub Rothengatter’s sponsorship money running out, both Sala and Kris Nissen tested the 861 in a test before the penultimate round of the F1 championship. However, Rothengatter finished the season for Zakspeed so Sala would have to wait for his chance at a race seat.

1987 - Formula 3000 and World Touring Car Championship Edit

Sala would continue in F3000 for 1987, moving to the works Lola team, driving the Cosworth powered T87/50. Again he faced a strong field, which included Stefano Modena, Roberto Moreno and Mauricio Gugelmin. When his F3000 commitments allowed, Sala would also race in the inaugural World Touring Car Championship, driving a Bigazzi entered BMW M3, sharing a car with Oscar Grouillard.

Sala started his F3000 season by retiring from the opening race at Silverstone, but finishing second from third on the grid at the next race at Vallelunga. He was then off the pace at Spa, finishing a lowly 18th, and retired from the prestigious following race at Pau. This left him with only 1 points finish in the first four races, leaving him 12 points adrift of championship leader and title rival Stefano Modena. He responded at the next race with pole and a win at Donnington, with Modena finishing closely behind in second.

He qualified a strong third at Pergusa, but again failed to score with another retirement. He was off the pace again at Brands Hatch but scored points at Birmingham, the scene of his famous win the previous year. Modena won the Birmingham race, and the following round in Imola, where Sala stood on the podium in third. This left Sala 18 points behind Modena with only two rounds to go, meaning that Sala required to win the next two rounds and hope Modena didn’t finish in the top five at either round.

Pole and a win at the Bugatti circuit, paired with a Modena retirement, meant that the championship was still mathematically available going into the final round at Jarama. Both title contenders started well outside the top 15, and Salas title dreams were ended as he could only finish fifth, one position ahead of Modena. This meant Sala secured second place in the championship, with 33 points, and two poles, two wins and four podiums in total. His performances did not go unnoticed by the F1 paddock and he was in strong contention for a drive in 1988.

Sala’s WTCC campaign began with a disqualification from the opening round at Monza, as his car was found to be 50kg underweight. However, he managed a podium at the next round at Jarama with third. Missing a round due to F3000, he returned at the Nurburgring with fourth, and won at Spa. Another podium followed at Brno and he retired at Silverstone.

Sala missed the rounds in Oceania but returned for the final race at Fuji, where he finished sixth. This meant he ended up 11th in the drivers championship, with Bigazzi finishing 5th in the teams championship, with drivers Winfried Vogt, Markus Oestreich and Altfrid Heger standing in when the regulars were unavailable.

Formula 1 Career (1988-1989) Edit

1988 – Minardi Edit

With Alessandro Nannini leaving to go to Benetton, there was a spare seat at the Minardi team alongside Adrian Campos. When Josele Garcia was denied a superlicense, Sala joined the team to form an all-Spanish lineup. The team used the new for 1988 Minardi M188, with the team moving to normally-aspirated Ford power after almost three years using Motori Moderni engines.

At the opening round in Brazil, Sala qualified in 20th position, 0.3s ahead of his teammate. He worked his way up to 11th place but was halted on lap 46 when his rear wing fell off. He again outqualified his teammate to start 18th at Imola, eventually ending up 11th despite being hampered by poor straight line speed. Driveshaft failure at Monaco ended his race prematurely.

He continued to qualify near the back of the grid in both Mexico and Canada, but capitalised on other car’s retirements to finish 11th and 13th respectively. By this point, Sala had outqualified Campos in each of the first five races, and had generally been quicker in the races. Campos’ poor form prompted him to be replaced by Pierluigi Martini by Detroit, where he immediately scored Minardi’s only points of the season in sixth while Sala retired from last with gearbox issues.

He was still running at the end of the race in France, but was not classified as he was a huge 10 laps behind winner Alain Prost. He qualified 18th at Silverstone but spun off on the opening lap in torrential conditions and retired, his third non-classification in a row. He was faster than Martini in qualifying for the German GP but missed out on starting the race by 0.3s. A third eleventh place of the year in Hungary was followed by another failure to qualify at Spa, this time missing out by a single tenth.

More gearbox gremlins ended his Italian GP after 12 laps, but at the next race at Estoril he qualified in 19th and finished a season best eighth. This led to high hopes for his home race but he only managed 12th in the race. He made no impact on the season ending flyaway races, finishing an off the pace 15th in Japan, and retiring in Australia when his Ford engine expired.

It was an unremarkable rookie year for Sala, scoring no points and as such was unincluded in the championship standings that year, with his eighth in Estoril being his best finish. His best qualifying performance came at the Hungarian Grand Prix where he lined up 11th. He was clearly the faster driver up against the more experienced Campos, although he was outperformed when Martini joined the team. Martini’s single point in Detroit meant that Minardi finished 10th in that years constructors standings.

Sala competed in the inaugural F1 indoor trophy in Bologna. It was structured as a knockout tournament, with six entries from the lower end of the F1 Grid. Sala beat Fabrizio Barbazza in the quarter finals, Nicola Larini in the semi finals, to face Alex Caffi in the final. Sala won, winning his first, albeit non-championship F1 race.

1989 – Minardi Edit

Minardi retained the lineup of Martini and Sala for the 1989 season, whilst they switched from Goodyear to Pirelli rubber. The team started the season with an upgraded 1988 car, the M188B, and stuck with Ford power for a second year.

It was a disastrous start to the year. Sala was a first corner casualty at Jacarepagua, when he plowed into the back of Olivier Groulliard’s slow moving Ligier. Another crash at Imola and ignition issues in Monaco meant that the Spaniard had three retirements on the bounce since the start of the season. The bad form continued when he couldn’t even qualify for the Mexican GP, despite the introduction of the new car, the M189.

Overheating in America and an accident in Canada was followed by yet another failure to qualify in France, meant that Sala was almost halfway through the season without a finish. Teammate Martini had a similar record with the Minardi proving unreliable. The following GP however, turned the formbook upside down. The team had to score points to avoid having to take part in pre-qualifying sessions, and hope was provided by the fact that the car was well-suited to fast circuits. Martini finished in fifth and Sala followed him home in sixth, fending off Groulliard to score his only career point.

Sala was brought back down to earth when he failed to qualify at Hockhenheim, and he suffered another collision next time out in Hungary. He was the last car circulating at Spa but finished a strong 8th in Italy, which was succeeded by a career best 9th on the grid at Estoril, where he finished 12th.

A collision with Mauricio Gugelmin brought an early close to his home race at Jarama, where he qualified 16 places behind Martini. He had new teammate for the Japanese GP, Paolo Barilla, replacing the injured Martini for a single race. Both Martinis retired on Lap 1, Sala involved in yet another collision in what would be his final Grand Prix start. He failed qualify in Australia, his final involvement in Formula 1.

Sala was classified 28th in the drivers championship, thanks to his singular point finish in Great Britain. Although his career best finish and qualifying position came in this season, he proved erratic and was involved in far too many crashes. His lack of consistency was shown by the fact he only finished four of the sixteen races in 1989. Furthermore, he was well beaten by his teammate Martini, who scored five points across the season, which along with Sala’s point, left Martini in 11th place in the constructors championship. Despite outqualifying Barilla in their only race together, Sala was replaced by the Italian for the next season, and would never drive in Formula 1 again.

For a second consecutive year, Sala would race in the F1 Indoor Trophy, again held in Bologna. It was again structured as a knockout tournament. Sala defeated Pierre Henri Raphanel in the quarter final, before advancing to the final by knocking out the experienced Andrea de Cesaris. He would face teammate Pierluigi Martini in the final, and for the second year running, Sala won. With his second win, Sala would go down in history as the most successful driver in the competition.

Post Formula 1 Career (1990-2008) Edit

After the conclusion of his F1 career, Sala returned to touring cars, with a decent amount of success. His only race in 1990 was the 480km of Suzuka, driving a Porsche. He finished 15th with his codriver Manuel Rueter from Germany. The race was the opening round of the World Sportscar Championship, but as Sala finished outside the points, he was unclassified in the standings.

Between 1991 and 1996, Sala competed in the Spanish Touring Car Championship, the most successful period of his career. In his debut season driving a Alfa Romeo 75 America, he managed to win the championship, five points ahead of Jossep Bassas. For the rest of his STCC career, he moved to the Nissan team, starting in 1992. That year he managed 1 win and 5 podiums but could only reach 4th in the championship, a disappointment compared to the previous year.

He made amends in 1993 however, becoming a double champion in the series, scoring 8 podiums from 11 races, including four wins. Despite scoring 5 podiums in 1994, he went winless and finished 5th in the championship. In 1994 he also competed in the Touring Car World Cup, a single race series, finishing 19th. He returned to the winners circle in 1995 with two wins and five podiums, although again he wasn’t in the championship fight. With the Touring Car World Cup extended to two races, he made little impact on either. He finished 27th and last in the first and retired from the second.

1996 was his final STCC season. It was his best championship finish since 1993, taking two wins and five podiums to score a third place in the championship. After the season, he took a break from motorsport, eventually returning in 2003. He won back to back Spanish GT championship victories in the GT3 class, driving a Ferrari 360 Modena. He continued in the Spanish GT championship with little success until his final season in 2008, where he finished second in the GTA class behind swede Peter Sundberg.

In 2007 and 2008 he also competed in the International GT Open, again with little success in his latter years. The only other races he competed in the 21st century was the Spanish round of the 2004 Porsche supercup, where he finished 15th. That was Sala’s only venture into the series. He also competed in the little known Formula Q 24 hours of Barcelona race, which he won alongside Manel Cequeda Jr and Marcel Costa, driving a Seat Leon.

In 2008, Sala officially ended his 25 year career in Motorsports. He wasn’t away for long however, as he replaced Colin Kolles as team principle at HRT for 2012, the team owned by former Minardi teammate Adrian Campos. He was only in this role for a year as slow and cashstrapped team went into liquidation in December of that year.

Racing Record Edit

Complete Racing Record Edit

Year

Championship

Car

Position

1982

AlfaSprint European Cup

Alfa Romeo Alfasud Sprint

9th

1983

AlfaSprint European Cup

Alfa Romeo Alfasud Sprint

2nd

1984

European Formula 3

Ralt RT3-Alfa Romeo

10th

Italian Formula 3

Ralt RT3-Alfa Romeo

NC

1985

Italian Formula 3

Ralt RT30-Alfa Romeo

7th

F3 Monaco Grand Prix

Ralt RT30-Alfa Romeo

6th

F3 Monza Trophy

Ralt RT30-Alfa Romeo

2nd

F3 European Cup

Ralt RT30-Alfa Romeo

5th

1986

Formula 3000

Ralt RT20-Ford Cosworth

4th

1987

Formula 3000

Lola T87/50-Ford Cosworth

2nd

World Touring Car Championship

BMW M3

11th

1988

Formula 1

Minardi M188-Ford Cosworth

NC

Formula 1 Indoor Trophy

Minardi M188-Ford Cosworth

1st

1989

Formula 1

Minardi M188B-Ford Cosworth

28th

Minardi M189-Ford Cosworth

Formula 1 Indoor Trophy

Minardi M189-Ford Cosworth

1st

1990

World Sports Prototype Racing

Porsche 962GTi

NC

1991

Spanish Touring Car Championship

Alfa Romeo 75 America

1st

1992

Spanish Touring Car Championship

Nissan Skyline GT-R

4th

1993

Spanish Touring Car Championship

Nissan Skyline GT-R

1st

1994

Spanish Touring Car Championship

Nissan Primera GTE

5th

Touring Car World Cup

Nissan Primera

19th

1995

Spanish Touring Car Championship

Nissan Primera GTE

6th

Nissan Primera 4x4

Touring Car World Cup

Nissan Primera

NC

1996

Spanish Touring Car Championship

Nissan Primera eGT

3rd

2003

Spanish GT Championship (GTB)

Ferrari 360 Modena Challenge

1st

2004

Spanish GT Championship (Overall)

Ferrari 360 Modena Challenge

4th

Porsche 996 GT3

Spanish GT Championship (GTB)

Ferrari 360 Modena Challenge

1st

Porsche Supercup

Porsche 911 GT3

NC

2005

Spanish GT Championship (GTA)

Unknown

18th

Formula Q 24 Hours of Barcelona

Seat Leon Cupra R

1st

2006

Spanish GT Championship (GTA)

Unknown

17th

2007

Spanish GT Championship (GTA)

Ferrari 430 GT2

8th

International GT Open (GTA)

Ferrari 430 GT2

45th

2008

Spanish GT Championship (GTA)

Ferrari 430 GT2

2nd

International GT Open (GTA)

Ferrari 430 GT2

NC

Formula One RecordEdit

Year Entrant Team WDC Points WDC Pos. Report
1988 Italy Lois Minardi Team Minardi-Ford Cosworth 0 NC Report
1989 Italy Lois Minardi Team Minardi-Ford Cosworth 1 28th Report

Career StatisticsEdit

Career ResultsEdit

Complete Formula One results
Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 Pts Pos
1988 Flag of Brazil Flag of San Marino Flag of Monaco Flag of Mexico Flag of Canada Flag of the United States Flag of France Flag of Great Britain Flag of Germany Flag of Hungary Flag of Belgium Flag of Italy Flag of Portugal Flag of Spain Flag of Japan Flag of Australia 0 NC
Ret 11th Ret 11th 13th Ret NC Ret DNQ 10th DNQ Ret 8th 12th 15th Ret
1989 Flag of Brazil Flag of San Marino Flag of Monaco Flag of Mexico Flag of the United States Flag of Canada Flag of France Flag of Great Britain Flag of Germany Flag of Hungary Flag of Belgium Flag of Italy Flag of Portugal Flag of Spain Flag of Japan Flag of Australia 1 28th
Ret Ret Ret DNQ Ret Ret DNQ 6th DNQ Ret 15th 8th 12th Ret Ret DNQ


Key
Symbol Meaning Symbol Meaning
1stWinner Ret Retired
2ndPodium finish DSQ Disqualified
3rd DNQ Did not qualify
5thPoints finish DNPQ Did not pre-qualify
14thNon-points finish TD Test driver
NCNon-classified finish (<90% race distance) DNS Did not start
ItalicsScored point(s) for Fastest Lap [+] More Symbols

ReferencesEdit

v · t · e Teams and Drivers
1988 Teams and Drivers
Teams Lotus · Tyrrell · Williams · Zakspeed · McLaren · AGS · March · Arrows · Benetton · Tyrrell · Osella · Rial · Minardi · Ligier · Ferrari · Lola · Coloni · EuroBrun · Dallara
Engines Ferrari · Ford Cosworth · Honda · Judd · Megatron · Osella · Zakspeed
Non-Works Entrants Larrousse Calmels · BMS Scuderia Italia
Drivers 1 Piquet · 2 Nakajima · 3 Palmer · 4 Bailey · 5 Mansell/Brundle/Schlesser · 6 Patrese · 9 Ghinzani · 10 Schneider · 11 Prost · 12 Senna · 14 Streiff · 15 Gugelmin · 16 Capelli · 17 Warwick · 18 Cheever · 19 Nannini · 20 Boutsen · 21 Larini · 22 de Cesaris · 23 Campos/Martini · 24 Pérez-Sala · 25 Arnoux · 26 Johansson · 27 Alboreto · 28 Berger · 29 Dalmas/Suzuki/Raphanel · 30 Alliot · 31 Tarquini · 32 Larrauri · 33 Modena · 36 Caffi
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