André Couto


André Couto was born on 14 December 1976 in Lisbon, Portugal, and moved to Macao at the age of four with his family. It was in Macao where he first became interested in motorsport through the annual Macau Grand Prix as well as the local Macao karting championship. 

In 1995, he made his debut to the Guia Circuit and first appearance in Formula 3 race at the 42nd Macau Grand Prix, and finished in the sixth place. Couto participated the Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix from 1996 to 1999, his win in the 2000 Formula 3 Macau Grand Prix, with Opel Team BSR, marked the first time a Macao driver had won the Formula 3. 

Following his victory, Couto expressed: “I feel really, really happy," Couto said after his win. "This is a great result. It was difficult to achieve this and it is just great. I was leading with Paolo Montin behind me and concentrated on making no mistakes."

In the years following his Formula 3 victory, Couto continued to support the event by racing in a variety of categories, most notably the World Touring Car Championship.

The car on display here is the Dallara F397/8 that Couto raced at the 1998 Macau Grand Prix. The type number is such because the car was built for the 1997 season with a series of upgrades introduced for 1998, rather than a new car being designed and built. This became the pattern in Formula 3 at the time, with a new car being built every third season with upgrades filling the intervening seasons.

The Dallara F397/8 benefitted from the international Formula 3 regulations allowing cars an extra 30 horsepower through an increased air restrictor. With a stiffer tub being introduced and the front of the cockpit giving the driver better visibility by being two centimeters lower. This also had better aerodynamics and taller sidepods gave better cooling for the taller radiators. The car had around 15% greater downforce and it stormed to success across the globe.

For 1998 the car had minor upgrades, mostly to the aerodynamics, with a pylon-mounted nose as was seen in Formula 1 at the time and winglets in front of the rear wheels. The car had a five-speed gearbox and with a jockey-sized driver weighed in at 530 kilograms.