Christian Fittipaldi
by Salvo Toscano

It must have been a matter of DNA for Christian Fittipaldi. His father Wilson and his uncle Emerson were drivers, his grandfather, Wilson Fittipaldi, was the first motorsport commentator on Brazilian radio . The Fittipaldi family came to Brazil from Trecchina, a small village near Potenza in Southern Italy. Fittipaldi's uncle Emerson was one of the legends of Formula One and Formula Indy. He became the youngest driver to win both championships. Fittipaldi ran his first go-kart race when he was ten. At only 17 he made his debut in open wheel racing and finished as runner-up in the 1988 Brazilian Formula Ford 2000 Championship. After that he won the Brazilian and South American Formula 3 and became the youngest driver in the world to receive a FIA super licence. In 1990 he finished 4th in the British F3000 championship. In 1991 he won the Formula 3000 Intercontinental Championship at his very first attempt.

In 1992 Fittipaldi joined the Minardi team and became the third member of his family to race in F1. The Brazilian spent two years in Faenza. In his first year he joined Gianni Morbidelli. That wasn't a brilliant season for the Italian team, after the great performance in 1991. Minardi score only one point, with Fittipaldi coming in 6th at Suzuka. That was his first point in F1. Fittipaldi's second year with Minardi, 1993, was one of the best seasons for the Faenza team. The car designed by Brunner was good, even if the engine was not too powerful. Fittipaldi came in 4th in South Africa and 5th in Monaco. He scored a top-ten finish in every race he completed. Team mate Fabrizio Barbazza scored two points, Minardi finished 8th in the constructors championship.

The highlight of the 1993 season however was something different. During the Italian GP his car touched Pierluigi Martini's Minardi just before the chequered flag. The two team-mates had been competing for 7th place. Fittipaldi ran into the right rear wheel of Martini's car at 190mph. His car was sent flying, flipped 360 degrees, landed on its wheels and skidded across the finish line on three wheels. That was probably the most spectacular accident with a "happy ending" in F1. In 1994 Fittipaldi moved to Footwork (Arrows) where he managed two 4th places, his best results in F1. He later switched to the US Champcar scene with Walker Racing and took second place at the Indy 500 in 1995. In 1996 he moved to Newman-Haas. That year he broke his leg at Surfer's Paradise. In 1999 he finally scored his first CART victory at Road America. He stayed with Newman Haas in 2000 and won his second race at Fontana. In 2001 and 2002 he had a hard time keeping up with team-mate Cristiano da Matta. In 2003 he changed series again, briefly moving to Nascar. He also raced sports cars, taking victory in the 24 hours of Daytona twice, in 2004 and 2014. Fittipaldi is married, loves 007 movies and his favourite type of food is genuine Italian pasta. Yes, it must be a matter of DNA.