Emerson Fittipaldi

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Brazil’s first Formula One World Champion, Emerson Fittipaldi ignited a South American passion for F1 that extends to today. As a young driver, “Emmo” was a charismatic two-time champion with Lotus and McLaren, but suffered a long string of disappointing seasons in his own car before making a successful move to the U.S. IndyCar series in the 1980s.

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Lotus 72D Ford-Cosworth 1972

Taking over as number one driver for Team Lotus after the death of Jochen Rindt in 1970, Emerson Fittipaldi won two F1 World Championships — with Lotus in 1972 and McLaren in 1974. With his first title at age 25, crowned as the youngest every world champion at the age of 25 years and 273 days (a record that would stand until Fernando Alonso won the 2005 title), Fittipaldi Emmononetheless drove for years in the shadow of Jackie Stewart, who dominated the early 1970s with Team Tyrrell. Emmo’s 1972 victory in the aging Lotus 72D, with five wins, one 2nd and a 4th in 11 races, was the last of a decade in which the fabled Lotus team won five world titles in ten seasons.

With his tremendously bushy sideburns, Fittipaldi struck a perfect picture for his times, and was the youngest World Champion in history. He won again for McLaren, giving them the first of many constructor’s championships, before moving on to form his own Brazilian-sponsored Copersucar Team in 1976 with brother Wilson Fittipaldi. But the Copersucar (renamed Fittipaldi in 1980) was never competitive — with a 2nd in the 1978 Belgian GP and a 3rd at Long Beach in 1980 being their best results — and the team was disbanded after the 1982 season.

Once again setting the trend for Brazilian drivers, Emmo made a stirring comeback in 1984 in the IndyCar series, winning the Indianapolis 500 twice. He finally retired after suffering neck injuries in a crash at the start of the US 500 in Michigan in 1996. This photo of Fittipaldi in the JPS Lotus is from the the season-opening 1972 Argentine Grand Prix at Buenos Aires, a race in which he retired with suspension problems after 61 laps.

QuoteHe was the computer. I would have a dinner with him, if the Lotus wasn’t handling well on the Friday and would explain to him what the car was doing. By Saturday morning the car was fantastic. Only Chapman could do that. Of all the engineers I worked with, all the team managers, Colin was a genius with the intuition to do it.Quote

— Emerson Fittipaldi —

Argentina 1972

Emerson Fittipaldi’s Career Profile
Seasons Races Wins Poles Fastest Laps Points F1 Titles
11 144 14 6 6 281 2
Other Emerson Fittipaldi Sites
Formula1.com Hall of Fame
Wikipedia Article
Biography by Dennis David
BBC’s Greatest F1 Drivers
GP Encyclopedia
AutoSport—F1’s Greatest Drivers
ESPN F1 Profile
McLaren Heritage Profile
F1 Pulse Profile
Official Site
Emerson Fittipaldi Video
Murray Walker: Emmo
Brazil 1973
Indianapolis 1989


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