Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Formula One drivers from Brazil

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Formula One drivers from Brazil

There have been 30 Formula One drivers from Brazil including three world champions. Ayrton Senna, the three-time title winner, is regarded by many as the best driver in the history of Formula One. Nelson Piquet also won the title three times and Emerson Fittipaldi was a two-time winner. Rubens Barrichello holds the record for the most races contested and finished as the championship runner-up in two seasons.


World champions and race winners

Brazil produced three world champions, all of whom won more than once. Emerson Fittipaldi was the first Brazilian to secure the Drivers' Championship, winning in 1972 and 1974. Nelson Piquet managed one better, winning the championship three times in the 1980s and became the first Brazilian triple world champion. In 1991 31-year-old Ayrton Senna won his third title, making him the youngest ever three-time world champion at that time.

Six Brazilian drivers won at least one grand prix, with a combined total of 101 wins. Ayrton Senna has won the most races with 41 victories, while Nelson Piquet won 23 out of 204 race starts. Fittipaldi, Rubens Barrichello, and Felipe Massa have each claimed more than ten wins. Carlos Pace scored his only victory at the 1975 Brazilian Grand Prix. Emerson Fittipaldi was the first Brazilian to win a Formula One Grand Prix - the 1970 United States Grand Prix at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course.

No Brazilian driver has won a Grand Prix since Barrichello's last win at the 2009 Italian Grand Prix, the country's longest barren run since Fittipaldi's maiden victory.

Current drivers

Felipe Massa debuted in 2002 and drove for Ferrari from 2006 to 2013. In his first three seasons with the team he finished third, fourth, and then second in the drivers' championship. All eleven of his race victories happened during those three seasons. He has found himself as the number two driver in the team on several occasions, firstly to Michael Schumacher and then Fernando Alonso, having to yield the lead and let the senior driver through for the victory. Massa came very close to winning the 2008 season, eventually losing to Lewis Hamilton by just one point. He lost it on the last lap of the final race of the season when Hamilton managed to pass Timo Glock for fifth position and secure enough points to win the championship. The Ferrari team, unaware of Hamilton's late overtaking move, were celebrating in the belief that Massa had won the title. When the situation became clear the message was relayed to a very disappointed Massa. For 2014, Massa moved to Williams.

Felipe Nasr started his Formula One career in 2015, driving for Sauber.

Notable former drivers

Ayrton Senna is often regarded as one of the best racing drivers of all time. In an Autosport survey, drivers were asked to vote for the greatest driver in history, and Senna was chosen as number one. He finished on the podium 80 times, nearly half of the races in which he competed, and won 41 events. He was a master of the Monaco Grand Prix, winning it five times consecutively, a feat never achieved by any other driver on any circuit.

Nelson Piquet won three titles in a career that spanned 14 seasons. He made his Formula One debut in 1978 as a privateer before securing a drive with Brabham. He spent the next seven seasons with the team, winning the Drivers' Championship in 1981 and 1983 before moving to Williams in 1986. Piquet had battles with team mate Nigel Mansell both on and off track. Piquet publicly called Mansell "an uneducated blockhead", with Mansell retorting that "Piquet is just a vile man". In their first year together Piquet was convinced that Williams were favouring the British driver and their distracting personal feud helped Alain Prost to the title. The following year Piquet got the upper hand and, though he had half as many wins as Mansell, his consistency saw him through to his third title. Piquet moved to Lotus for two seasons before finishing his F1 career with Benetton with whom he achieved three victories. After his retirement Piquet developed a successful satellite navigation company which helped him finance the career of his son, Nelson Piquet, Jr. and now finances the career of the younger Pedro Piquet.

Emerson Fittipaldi spent ten years in Formula One and won the title in 1972 and 1974. The Autosport driver survey placed Fittipaldi in 12th place, one ahead of Piquet. Fittipaldi joined Formula One in 1970 with Lotus and achieved one victory over the first two years. He won five races in his third year on the way to securing his first championship title, and came second to Jackie Stewart the year after. He switched to McLaren for 1974 and won his second title, coming runner-up the following year. Fittipaldi left McLaren to set up Fittipaldi Automotive alongside older brother Wilson, a team financed by Copersucar, the Brazilian state-run sugar marketing company. They remained uncompetitive for several years with only two podiums in the next five years. When the funding stopped Emerson retired from driving to focus on managing the team. He did so for two years before it folded in 1982, and he returned to Brazil. Fittipaldi went on to achieve success in IndyCar.

Rubens Barrichello raced a record 322 times. He finished in the top four of the drivers' championship in five consecutive seasons with Ferrari between 2000 and 2004. During this time Barrichello, like Massa after him, found it difficult to be the second driver to Michael Schumacher. He left Ferrari to join Honda and endured three tough seasons before Brawn GP bought out the team and produced a 2009 car that helped him to finish third in the championship. At the beginning of his career Barrichello was mentored by Ayrton Senna, and the drivers became close friends. Senna's death, just a year after Barrichello's debut, deeply upset the young Brazilian who had been injured in a crash at the start of the same Grand Prix weekend. When Barrichello won his first race six years later he was overwhelmed by the emotion of being the first Brazilian driver, since Senna, to stand atop the podium.

List of all Brazilian drivers

  • Drivers are arranged in order of debut in the series
  • Bold indicates driver is still active
  • Yellow background indicates Drivers' World Champion
  • References

    Formula One drivers from Brazil Wikipedia