Former F1 driver Wilson Fittipaldi passes away at 80

©The CahierArchive

Former Formula 1 driver and team owner Wilson Fittipaldi passed away in Brazil on Friday at the age of 80.

The older brother of two-time F1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi and father of former F1 racer Christian had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 2020 following a fall at his home, but eventually recovered from the ordeal.

However, last Christmas, while celebrating his 80th birthday on December 25th, Fittipaldi suffered a cardiac arrest after choking on a piece of meat. He was subsequently sedated and intubated in a hospital in Brazil, where he was being treated for his condition until his passing on Friday.

Beyond his own career in the 70s as a Grand Prix driver, Wilson Fittipaldi played a significant role in the sport's development in his home country.

Born in Sao Paulo in 1943, Fittipaldi was immersed in the world of racing from a young age, following in the footsteps of his father, Wilson Sr., a renowned racing journalist and organizer.

While his younger brother, Emerson, would become a double Formula One World Champion, Wilson carved his own path in the sport.

Fittipaldi's racing career spanned various disciplines, including Formula 3, Formula 2, and Formula One.

©The CahierArchive

He made his F1 debut in 1971 with Team Lotus alongside Emerson, and later raced for Bernie Ecclestone’s Brabham team and for his own outfit, Copersucar.

While his F1 career yielded only one championship point in 35 races, he secured podium finishes in both F2 and F3, showcasing his talent and potential.

Beyond single-seater racing, Fittipaldi tackled endurance events like the legendary Mil Milhas Brasileiras, even winning the race alongside his son Christian in 1994.

He also actively supported his son’s career in F1 and IndyCar, demonstrating his dedication to nurturing talent within the family.

Despite his health struggles, Fittipaldi remained passionate about racing, attending events and engaging with fans. His presence at the 2023 Sao Paulo Grand Prix exemplified his enduring spirit and love for the sport.

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