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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Former F1 driver and crew proprietor Wilson Fittipaldi dies aged 80

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The older brother of double F1 world champion Emerson and father of Indycar race-winner Christian had been unwell for a while.

He had been hospitalised since Christmas Day, which was additionally his birthday, after he choked on a chunk of meat. His household was unable to clear his airway, which triggered a cardiac arrest.

Born in Sao Paulo, he drove all kinds of vehicles in his youth, inspired by father and key Brazilian racing determine Wilson Fittipaldi Sr.

In 1966 he had a quick preliminary stint in Europe in System 3, however it was youthful brother Emerson who first made an actual influence when he went to the UK in 1969, reaching F1 with Crew Lotus the next yr.

Wilson made a full-time transfer to Europe in 1970, making the most of Emerson’s success. That yr he raced in F3 in opposition to the likes of Niki Lauda and James Hunt, successful a British championship spherical in addition to a few non-championship occasions.

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At first of 1971, he made his F1 debut in a works Crew Lotus entry alongside Emerson within the non-championship Argentinian GP.

That yr he additionally moved as much as F2 with a Crew Bardahl Lotus. He scored factors on six events, notably a 3rd place at Hockenheim, and completed sixth within the championship in a discipline that included the likes of Ronnie Peterson and Carlos Reutemann.

Wilson Fittipaldi, Brabham BT37 Ford

Photograph by: David Phipps

That propelled him right into a seat with Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham F1 crew in 1972, as team-mate to Graham Hill. He was third within the non-championship race at Interlagos and logged seventh locations in Spain and Germany, however it was a typically disappointing yr.

Whereas persevering with to race in F2, he remained with Brabham for the 1973 F1 season. Fittipaldi put in a storming drive in Monaco, which he would later decide because the race of his life, earlier than retiring. He scored what can be the one factors of his profession with sixth in Argentina and fifth on the Nurburgring.

His solely look in 1974 was with Brabham in a non-championship race in Brasilia earlier than he took day out from F1 to place collectively his personal crew in Brazil.

Named after the sugar firm which sponsored the crew, Copersucar arrived on the grid in 1975, however the first automobile was uncompetitive, and his greatest outcome was 10th within the US GP.

Regardless of the crew’s lack of type, Wilson satisfied Emerson to depart McLaren and be part of him in 1976, and he retired from driving to run the crew.

A number of years of battle adopted, however second place for Emerson in his house race in 1978 was an early spotlight.

A merger with the Wolf outfit for 1980 noticed future world champion Keke Rosberg be part of the crew as second driver, whereas that yr it additionally gave a primary F1 job to college graduate Adrian Newey. Emerson retired on the finish of the 1980 season, and the crew folded two years later.

Wilson Fittipaldi, Copersucar-Fittipaldi FD3

Wilson Fittipaldi, Copersucar-Fittipaldi FD3

Photograph by: David Phipps

The older Fittipaldi returned to the cockpit in 1982 and competed in native inventory automobile occasions, whereas additionally dedicating himself to managing the profession of his son, Christian, who spent three years racing in F1 between 1992 and 1994 earlier than turning his consideration to the USA.

Father and son additionally had their nice moments collectively, triumphing within the Mil Milhas Brasileiras in 1994, an occasion created by Wilson Fittipaldi Sr. In 2008 he shared a Porsche with Emerson in Brazilian GT occasions.

In 2020 Fittipaldi suffered a fall at his home and was hospitalised earlier than being recognized with a cerebral haemorrhage. He underwent surgical procedure to right it and was launched just a few days later.

Even together with his poor well being, he remained energetic on social media and at motorsport occasions, and he was current within the paddock ultimately yr’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

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