Ex-Formula 1 driver Wilson Fittipaldi passes away at 80

Ex-Formula 1 driver Wilson Fittipaldi passes away at 80

Former Formula 1 driver and team owner Wilson Fittipaldi has tragically passed away at the age of 80 following his hospitalization over the Christmas holiday.

Wilson Fittipaldi Jr. who is the older brother of Brazil’s double world champion Emerson passed away on February 23 at the age of 80 following a cardiac arrest on Christmas Day after choking on a piece of meat.

Fittipaldi had been hospitalized since Christmas until his death on Friday and he “passed away peacefully and surrounded by love” as the Brazilian Automobile Confederation (CBA) confirmed in a statement following his demise.

Fittipaldi, who was born in 1943 in Sao Paulo, was raised in the world of racing and followed in the footsteps of his father Wilson Sr. who was a renowned racing journalist and organizer.

The Brazilian participated in Formula One races from 1972 to 1975 making 38 appearances on the grid. He is the brother of former two-time world champion, Emerson and his son Christian was an F1 and NASCAR driver.

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

Together with his younger brother, Fittipaldi founded Fittipaldi-Copersucar which was the first Brazilian F1 team in history, as it operated from 1975 to 1982. The project secured three podium finishes in 103 starts without a win.

Fittipaldi also pursued endurance races such as the legendary Mil Milhas Brasileiras, which he won in 1994 alongside his son Christian. He additionally demonstrated his commitment to nurturing talent inside the family by actively supporting his son’s F1 and IndyCar careers.

“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,” CBA head Giovanni Guerra said.

See also  Raikkonen explains the close call run-in with Carlos Sainz

Fittipaldi continued to have a strong passion for racing by attending events, and interacting with fans despite his declining health. His attendance in the Sao Paulo Grand Prix in 2023 highlighted his unwavering love for the sport.

FIA vice-president of motorsport for South America Fabiana Ecclestone paid tribute to Fittipaldi in the wake of his passing.

“It is with deep sorrow that we receive the news of the passing of Wilson Fittipaldi Jr.,” the statement read. “His departure leaves an irreparable void in the automobile scene and in the lives of those who had the privilege of knowing him.

“His dedication and efforts were fundamental in consolidating the country as an important protagonist on the international racing scene.

“In this moment of mourning, we express our most sincere condolences to the family, friends and admirers of Wilson Fittipaldi Jr.

“May they find comfort in the memories of his brilliant career and in the legacy he left for the sport he loved so much. May he rest in peace.”

Leave a Reply