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wilson fittipaldi

R.I.P. Wilson Fittipaldi Brazil’s forgotten F1 icon

wilson fittipaldi

Ex-Formula 1 driver Wilson Fittipaldi Junior., older brother of Brazil’s double world champion Emerson, died on Friday at the age of 80 after choking on a piece of meat and suffering a cardiac arrest on Christmas Day.

His death was announced by the Brazilian Automobile Confederation (CBA), which said in a statement that Fittipaldi Jr. “passed away peacefully and surrounded by love”.

Wilsinho as he was popularly known, participated in 38 Formula 1 races in the 1970s driving initially for Brabham and then for Fittipaldi-Copersucar, the first and only Brazilian Formula 1 team, which he set up along with his brother.

CBA head Giovanni Guerra paid tribute: “He brought together talent, vision of the future and boldness to take Brazil’s name to a level never before imagined as part of a project that was certainly ahead of its time.”

Emerson won his F1 world titles in 1972 and 1974 with Lotus and McLaren, respectively, before switching to Fittipaldi-Copersucar in 1976. The project secured three podium finishes in 103 starts without a win.

Although pretty much off the radar outside of Brazil, Wilson returned to racing in the eighties and early nineties to drive in the Brazilian Stock Car championship, winning several rounds.

In 1994 and 1995 Wilson was in the winning Porsche team contesting the Brazilian classic Mil Milhas race founded by his father, sharing the car with his son Christian Fittipaldi. In February 1998 he made a comeback in the Brazilian Stock Car championship.

In 2000 he guested for Mercedes-Benz at the Nürburgring round of the FIA European Truck Racing Cup. In 2008, brothers Wilson and Emerson contested the Brazilian GT3 Championship, sharing a Porsche 997 GT3 run by WB Motorsports.

Wilson Fittipaldi Jr. is survived by his son Christian and daughter Roberta, who also raced in Formula 1 in the early 1990s. (Reporting by Gabriel Araujo and Eduardo Simoes)